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Match Report: Strikers v Thunder

17 October 2021

Tahlia McGrath has begun life as Strikers skipper on a high note, crashing 42 with the bat before collecting a trio of wickets to steer her side to victory in the season-opener against Sydney Thunder.

A fixture full of highlights, the only moment that outshone McGrath’s brilliant performance was a boundary line circus catch from Bridget Patterson to dismiss Thunder international Issy Wong. A seemingly impossible one-hander that begun and ended within the field play, with a brief interlude outside the rope in-between, is an instant entrant into the best in the history of the tournament.

Sent in to bat at Blundstone Arena, the Strikers lost the early wickets of Katie Mack and South African internationals Dané van Niekerk and Laura Wolvaardt, but when the supremely in-form McGrath began her walk to the crease, a ripple of expectation passed through both teams dugouts.

Joining forces with thrilling talent Maddie Penna, the new skipper looked in control every step of the way as the two took the score from 4/46 to 5/115 in short time. The partnership changed the momentum of the innings, with some late hitting from Amanda-Jade Wellington pushing the total to 7/140 from the allotted overs.

The Thunder’s dig began in remarkably similar fashion, with the east coast side falling to 3/34 through a combination of tight bowling from McGrath and fellow international star Darcie Brown. Both collected early wickets to send ripples of concern through the Thunder line-up, but it was an over from Strikers debutant Jemma Barsby that really set the tone.

Recruited from Perth Scorchers in the offseason, Barsby delivered the final over of the powerplay, with damaging batters Phoebe Litchfield and Corrinne Hall looking to inflate the run-rate. Six balls later, the game was on the Strikers terms, with Barsby not only sending down a maiden, but also claiming the vital wicket of Litchfield.

A 50-run partnership between Hall and Anika Learoyd followed, before McGrath took the ball and the game into her hands. Two wickets in two balls finished off the 15th over, reducing the Thunder to 5/93, making their task look increasingly difficult.

Patterson’s catch then put the exclamation point on the 30-run triumph, with some quick hands from keeper Tegan McPharlin off the bowling of Sarah Coyte bringing the match to its conclusion.

The Strikers have a few days to enjoy the victory, with their next clash set for Wednesday afternoon against Melbourne Renegades, also at Blundstone Arena.