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Women's Cricket England lose Ashes opener as Tahlia McGrath stars for Australia

TAHLIA McGRATH starred with bat and ball for Australia as Meg Lanning’s side chased down 170 to storm to a nine-wicket victory in the first Twenty20 of the Women’s Ashes.

The 26-year-old had only played three T20 internationals before being selected ahead of Australian talisman Ellyse Perry in the starting line-up in Adelaide and showed her prowess, hitting an unbeaten 91.

McGrath claimed three quick wickets towards the back end of the England innings to curb their total before coming in at number three and scoring at a strike rate of 185.71 to put the game beyond Heather Knight’s side and ensure Australia drew first blood in the series.

She was supported by captain Lanning, who was promoted to open in the absence of the injured Beth Mooney, as despite the early wicket of Alyssa Healy Australia produced their record successful chase and the fifth-highest in all women’s T20 internationals — and with three overs to spare.

Lanning hit an unbeaten 64 as Australia comfortably chased down England’s total, aided by some poor judgements from the fielders in stopping boundaries and diving over the ball as Australia took a two-point lead in the multiformat series.

Sophie Ecclestone had struck early, with Healy picking out Nat Sciver at short midwicket to depart for just seven and leave Australia 26 for one in the fourth over, and England stayed ahead of the run-rate until the halfway point when they failed to take the crucial wickets.

In the England innings, Danni Wyatt struck a powerful 70 from 54 as the tourists reached 169 for four after being put in to bat by Australia.

After a slightly nervous start, Wyatt and Beaumont got England to 82 without loss from the first 10 overs, capitalising on the early introduction of spin especially.

Alana King claimed her first international wicket on her Australian debut, with Beaumont caught and bowled, and going into the final few overs McGrath (three for 26) removed Wyatt and Sciver in quick succession.

The latter made a useful 32 from 23 in a stand of 59 with Wyatt, who hit six fours and three sixes in her innings before being bowled by a McGrath yorker.

The arrival of two new batters slowed down the visitors’ run-rate as Amy Jones fell to McGrath for four and Knight and Sophia Dunkley each finished 10 not out.

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