Adelaide made it back-to-back WBBL|05 successes against quality opposition in Brisbane, thumping a talented Perth Scorchers line-up on Sunday by seven wickets with 32 balls to spare.
The top-of-the-table Strikers were battling at 3/22 in reply to the Scorchers’ 9/115 when McGrath displayed just how much talent she has in equalling her highest WBBL score with a stunning unconquered 65 on a difficult wicket. She shared a matchwinning 94-run stand from 72 balls with England’s Lauren Winfield, who remained unbeaten on 24 from 28 balls in a crucial contribution.
The Allan Border Field wicket proved tough to score on but McGrath made it look easy as she stroked eight fours and two sixes to finish on the same score she made last year against Hobart Hurricanes at Karen Rolton Oval.
The Strikers, who leapt to the top of the WBBL table with their fighting last-gasp three-run triumph against Hobart Hurricanes on Saturday, will be buoyed by claiming successive wins without major contributions from superstar Kiwi batters, skipper Suzie Bates (six and eight) and Sophie Devine (six and a duck).
Adelaide gave keeper-batter Tegan McPharlin plenty to celebrate in her 50th WBBL game, the bowlers setting up the win with an outstanding allround performance. And McGrath played her part here too, claiming 1/24 from four overs.
“It felt really good,” said McGrath, preferring her bat to do most of the talking. “It was a really good team performance. Everyone played their role and it’s really good to be on a winning side and enjoying cricket.
“There’s a good feeling among the group - we’ve got a really good culture, everyone knows their role really well and it’s fun to be a part of it.”
Strikers medium-pacers Megan Schutt and Sarah Coyte bowled sensationally to restrict the Scorchers to a modest 9/115 from their 20 overs the day after they had crunched 1/147 off 18.2 overs to overpower Brisbane Heat. Coyte snared 3/18 from four overs and Schutt claimed 1/14 from four overs for the Strikers, who were on-song from the start.
Schutt gave her Australian Test skipper Meg Lanning a testing time in the opening over, having a strong shout for lbw first-up turned down. The late-moving inswinger would have missed leg-stump but Schutt kicked off the big clash with a rare T20 maiden.
Lanning, at her best with 56 from 52 balls to help the Scorchers to the win against Brisbane, sounded a warning as she flicked Devine to fine-leg for four. But Devine struck back by moving one back off the track to clean bowl the dangerous hitter for four.
Schutt continued to pile on the pressure and English opener Amy Jones, who blasted an unbeaten 60 from 49 balls against the Heat, decided it was time to make her move. Schutt’s first nine balls had not conceded a single run before Jones (three) flicked her uppishly to mid-wicket. The Strikers had snatched Saturday’s game from the Hurricanes with Katie Mack’s stunning last-gasp catch on the boundary and Bridget Patterson maintained those standards as she dashed in from deep mid-wicket and snared a superb running, sliding catch. Remarkably, it took 15 balls before a run was taken from Schutt, a single to Englishwoman Natalie Sciver to fine-leg.
Sciver and Nicole Bolton were starting to look dangerous, having added 49 from 44 balls, when Coyte put the pressure back on with a miserly, accurate spell with deceptice changes of pace. Sciver (26 from 24 balls) backed away but hit too early at a slower ball and was caught by Winfield at cover. Another Coyte slower ball fooled Chloe Piparo, who was trapped right in front for three.
Bates, after a season out of the attack battling a foot injury, picked up the wickets of Georgia Redmayne and Heather Graham - another victim of the running, sliding Patterson at deep mid-wicket - finishing with 2/14 off three overs.
McGrath’s accurate medium-pace has been a revelation over the weekend - she was outstanding with 1/12 off four overs against the Hurricanes - and she deserved the wicket of Bolton. The star Aussie left-hander, who top-scored with 41 from 43 balls, tried to force McGrath over mid-wicket but only managed to sky the ball to Bates at mid-off.
Bates showed her intentions at the top of the Strikers innings as she slashed Irish pace bowler Kim Garth over slips for four, then played a delicate late cut for another boundary. But a hooping outswinger had Bates given out caught behind and Adelaide’s early shudder became a major concern when matchwinning opener Devine pulled Piepa Cleary straight to Piparo at square-leg, gone for a rare golden duck. Garth’s big away swing continued to cause carnage when Patterson (seven from nine balls) flayed at one and edged through to keeper Jones.
McGrath took to Garth as she flicked her to fine-leg for four, then unleashed a lovely cover-drive to the boundary, taking 11 runs from her third over. On a weekend when big hits had proved so hard to pull off, the talented No. 3 hooked a Taneale Peschel short ball for a stunning six. McGrath punched off-spinner Jemma Barsby through point for four, then pulled Graham for a boundary and she and Winfield brought up their 50 partnership from 45 balls.
McGrath was playing with confidence and composure, using her feet to the slower bowlers and flicked Cleary over square-leg for another six, then even pulled out her reserse sweep for a boundary from Barsby. She brought up her half-century from just 36 balls with a late cut for two from Bolton. Winfield joined in the action when she plundered a powerful on-drive for four from Barsby and a strong Strikers win was within sight.
The clash finished in unusual fashion, McGrath driving Bolton in a rare mistake in the air and straight to point - but she was dropped and scampered through for the winning run. It was one piece of luck McGrath deserved in a sensational breakthrough performance.