Australia thump Ireland on back of McGrath-Lanning’s record partnership

Meg Lanning and Tahlia McGrath put on a show for Australia. © Oisin Keniry

Ireland captain Laura Delany’s decision to insert Australia into bat after winning the toss gave the world champions the perfect opportunity to stamp their title credentials ahead of the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Birmingham as they thumped the hosts by 63 runs at the Bready Cricket Club on Thursday (July 21).

Skipper Meg Lanning put on a record 135-run third wicket partnership for Australia with Tahlia McGrath, who also scored a bruising half century. Alana King continued to be unplayable as she wrecked Ireland’s chase with figures of 2 for 11 to give Australia their second win in the Tri-series.

Ireland show promise up top

Ireland made a fine start with the ball as Ava Canning bowled a probing first over and even managed to find Beth Mooney’s outside edge but the ball ran away to the boundary in the absence of a single slip.

Georgina Dempsey, who came into the team instead of Jane Maguire, opened the bowling from the other end and she was impressive too as both the Irish bowlers found swing with the new ball.

She received the rewards almost immediately as she got the big scalp of Alyssa Healy, who was dismissed off the final ball of Dempsey’s first over for just one off nine deliveries after Dempsey managed to move the ball in sharply off the pitch.

Ireland continued to probe and did not give anything away and the pressure soon told as Mooney also fell for a run-a-ball nine after managing to hit a loopy full toss from Rachel Delaney straight to mid-on.

The Lanning-McGrath double act

Australia lost both their openers with just 31 runs on the board but from then on it was all one way traffic as Lanning and McGrath were severe on anything that was pitched up or on their pads.

Lanning played a chanceless innings and was fluent on the leg side as Ireland’s bowlers started to feel the pressure and frequently strayed on to her pads. Lanning took full toll by lofting a couple of sixes on the leg side.

McGrath was powerful down the ground and she also used the pace of the bowlers effectively with a few delicate dabs behind the wicket. She also benefited from a couple of missed chances.

McGrath was first reprieved on 39 by Mary Waldron as she missed a stumping after Delaney got one to turn sharply. McGrath was also dropped on 68 by Canning, who failed to grab a top edge at short third.

Leah Paul and Delany bowled economically towards the end of the innings to limit Australia to 182 for 4 off their 20 overs after they looked set to get 200 at one stage. Lanning smashed 74 off just 49 balls, while McGrath hit 70 off 45 balls before falling in the last over. She now averages 247 in the T20I format and this was the first time she has been dismissed across her four T20I innings.

Schutt joins an elite club

Megan Schutt generated prodigious swing with the new ball and Rebecca Stokell had no answers as she fell cheaply for one after Schutt got a ball to jump slightly and also hold its line.

The in-form Gaby Lewis also struggled to score fluently and was the next to fall for seven as she found Lanning at cover, while trying to hit the returning Jess Jonassen, who missed the first two matches after testing positive for COVID-19, over the off side.

Ireland’s only substantial partnership in the chase was between Orla Prendergast and Delany as they put on 36 for the third wicket. Prendergast was full of intent and she started fluently and looked to be in fine form before she failed to read Alana King’s googly, who struck off just her third ball to dismiss Prendergast for a well-made 25.

Delany’s knock was much more laboured as she scored 21 off 31 balls before falling to the young Darcie Brown, who generated impressive pace. Schutt then brought up a landmark of her own when she dismissed Waldron for 15 after deceiving her with a slower ball. Schutt became just the sixth bowler to pick 100 T20I wickets and the second from Australia after Ellyse Perry.

Ireland never got close in the chase but they did well to bat out their 20 overs for the loss of seven wickets and 119 runs. King was the pick of the bowlers for the third match in a row, while Schutt and Jonassen picked two wickets each and Brown got a wicket too.

Australia are top of the table after winning two of their three matches, while Ireland are last after failing to win any of their three matches so far.

Brief scores: Australia 182/4 in 20 overs (Meg Lanning 74, Tahlia McGrath 70; Georgina Dempsey 2/35) beat Ireland 119/7 in 20 overs (Orla Prendergast 25; Alana King 2/11, Megan Schutt 2/16) by 63 runs POTM: Tahlia McGrath