Tahlia McGrath just can’t be stopped.
The Australian put together another superb all-round performance in Wednesday’s Commonwealth Games match against Pakistan in Birmingham, extending her golden run in the T20 format.
McGrath top-scored with an unbeaten 78 (51) before claiming three wickets to help the Aussies secure a convincing 44-run victory at Edgbaston.
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The 26-year-old smacked 10 boundaries and a six over fine leg in the penultimate over, combining with opener Beth Mooney for an unbeaten 141-run stand as Australia registered a team total of 2/160.
It ranks as the largest third-wicket partnership for Australia in women’s T20Is.
McGrath later collected career-best figures of 3/13 from three overs with the ball, finding herself on a hat-trick in the 17th over after removing Bismah Maroof and Tuba Hassan in consecutive deliveries.
The South Australian’s career stats are nothing short of absurd – since making her T20I debut in October last year, McGrath has scored 339 runs at 169.50.
Her strike rate of 156.22 is arguably even more impressive.
McGrath has only been dismissed for less than 70 eleven in 12 T20 internationals; during last week’s thrilling victory over India.
“When I got out the first time, I did joke that I was going to retire and keep that average for the rest of my career,” McGrath told reporters after the win.
“I’m quite enjoying the T20 format, I just get to go out there, play with a bit of freedom, play my shots and I know that if it doesn’t come off, I’ve got that many explosive batters coming in behind me
“(My form) is a big surprise and I’m still pinching myself. But I just love playing in the Australian shirt and I love every moment I get to do it.
“So at the moment, it’s nice that I’m contributing to some team success and I’m just riding the wave and enjoying my cricket because it’s been a lot of fun.”
McGrath’s bowling has been equally as damaging in the T20 format, taking 10 wickets at 11.00 with a strike rate of 10.2.
She joins Pakistan’s Mohammed Hafeez on an illustrious list of cricketers to score 70+ runs and take 3+ wickets in a T20I more than eleven.
McGrath has essentially made herself undroppable, pushing superstar all-rounder Ellyse Perry out of the national T20 line-up.
“She just seems really clear on her role in our team, and also has got some great clarity on her own process within her own game,” Mooney said.
“She just comes out and takes the pressure off the other batter out there, which was me today, which I was really grateful for.
“She’s just really clear on her own game plan and she comes out with that confidence when she first walks out there, too, so that helps as well.”
Australian wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy and skipper Meg Lanning were cheaply dismissed in the Powerplay, each returning to the sheds for 4.
Healy’s form with the bat in the game’s shortest format may be cause for concern – since the start of 2021, she has averaged 8.77 with the bat in T20 internationals.
Aussie seamers Megan Schutt and Darcie Brown each snared early breakthroughs in the Powerplay before McGrath combined with spinners Jess Jonassen and Alana King to roll through Pakistan’s middle order.
Lanning’s side, who were undefeated in the group stage and remain red-hot favorites to win the coveted gold medal, will next face either England or New Zealand in the semi-finals on Saturday.
“Pressure is a bit of a privilege in my eyes,” Mooney said.
“There’s certainly no amount of pressure that’s more than what we put on ourselves to perform day in and day out.
“The challenge that awaits us is really exciting. Semi-finals are sometimes harder than finals. You have to be on your game from ball one.
“You want a spot in that gold medal match. We know on our best day we can beat anyone.”