Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo
Australia 170 for 1 (McGrath 91*, Lanning 64*) beat England 169 for 4 (Wyatt 70, McGrath 3-26) by nine wickets
Tahlia McGrath played the role of destroyer with bat and ball as Australia won the first T20I against England by an emphatic nine wickets to take the first points in their Ashes contest.
An 82-run opening partnership between Danni Wyatt and Tammy Beaumont, England's highest first-wicket stand in T20Is against Australia, set the hosts 170 to win. They got there comfortably, thanks to McGrath's unbeaten 91 off 49 balls and 64 not out by Meg Lanning, opening in place of the injured Beth Mooney.
The pair put on an unbroken stand of 144 for the second wicket as they achieved Australia's highest chase in women's T20Is and the fifth-highest by any team in Women's T20Is to reach 170 for 1 with three overs to spare in response to England's 169 for 4.
McGrath had ended England's bright start when she took three wickets in eight balls to make it 154 for 4 for the visitors from 82 for 1. Australia take two points for the win in the multi-format series.
Tahlia McGrath the star
Three wickets in eight balls was exactly what Australia needed as the game threatened to run away from them and McGrath duly delivered. Her yorker was on song and accounted for set batters Nat Sciver and Wyatt within the space of three deliveries, ending England's second fifty-run stand in the process. She then had Amy Jones caught comfortably by Grace Harris at long-on in her next over to keep the hosts in with a chance.
With the bat, McGrath was devastating after Sophie Ecclestone's early strike had accounted for Alyssa Healy, well caught by Sciver low at short midwicket for just 7. McGrath unfurled 13 fours and a six as she bludgeoned her way to her score, which included a 28-ball fifty, and took the lead role in Australia's crucial partnership. She struck back-to-back fours off Sarah Glenn, the second of which saw Maia Bouchier jam her right knee hard into the turf as she ran round from deep square in a vain attempt to cut the ball off inside the rope. Bouchier was later spotted off the field with her knee heavily strapped in ice. A short time later, McGrath survived a close call for a stumping on 46, only just getting her bat grounded in time as Jones gathered off the deck from the bowling of Ecclestone, and McGrath cashed in.
Lanning steps up
Australia captain Lanning opened instead of Mooney, who suffered a fractured jaw when she was struck by a ball at training earlier this week, and she performed the role with aplomb, reaching her half-century off 38 balls and supporting McGrath's knock to perfection as the duo turned up the pressure on England and it showed as fielding errors crept in.
Her superb ball-striking kept an air of calm about Australia's chase with an altered line-up which appears to have moved on from veteran Ellyse Perry, who was watching from the dugout. Lanning finished in fine style with back-to-back fours off Heather Knight to bring up her 3000th run in T20Is and overhaul the target as she and McGrath took 17 off the final over, her knock coming off just 44 deliveries.
England's dream start
England were 15 without loss after the first three overs in an eventful start, Beaumont surviving a shout for lbw playing across a Megan Schutt inswinger off the second ball as Australia chose not to review and then struck a heavy blow to the side of the helmet in an aggressive over from Tayla Vlaeminck.
But Beaumont let loose in the fourth over, helping herself to three fours, pulled through midwicket, fine and through square leg as Vlaeminck bowled short. Wyatt then got in on the act with back-to-back sixes straight down the ground off Jess Jonassen as the England pair took 26 runs from eight balls.
Debutant legspinner Alana King entered the attack in the eighth over, which went for eight runs, but she struck with the first ball of her next over as Beaumont tried to work one to the leg side and got a leading edge which floated up and into King's waiting hands to end her innings on 30 and England's opening stand at 82 for 1.
Wyatt in fine touch
Wyatt's power and timing were outstanding as she appeared to pick up where she left off at the end of the English summer. Her three sixes looked effortless and she reached her fifty off just 39 deliveries. Having lost Beaumont as a partner, Wyatt combined well with Sciver and the pair added another 59 runs.
Australia made dubious use of the DRS when Sciver was given not out lbw trying to sweep King and the ball was shown to be hitting outside off. Sciver, on 5, then successfully overturned an lbw decision that had gone Schutt's way when UltraEdge revealed she had got bat on ball. From there, Sciver began to score freely, helping herself to 16 runs off one Nicola Carey over.
Wyatt reached 70 off 53 balls when she sliced McGrath into the gap between extra and deep cover, highlighting her ability to find space throughout her innings. Sciver scooped McGrath over short fine leg for her fourth boundary but fell to a stunning yorker next ball and Wyatt followed in similar fashion two balls later, bowled trying to fend towards third man only to miss as her off-stump was pegged back and McGrath's rampage hit full swing.
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