Australia win T20 gold after COVID drama


Steve Jancetic / AAP news

Australia have beaten India to add women’s T20 gold to their already bursting trophy cabinet on a drama-charged Commonwealth Games finale overshadowed by a COVID-19 controversy.

Australia held on to win by nine runs despite a brilliant knock by Indian skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, adding Commonwealth gold to World T20 and ODI success for this all-conquering side.

Ash Gardner, the hero with the bat when Australia beat India to open the tournament, this time starred with the ball, taking 3-16 off three overs – including the match-turning wicket of Kaur.

But the win was overshadowed by drama before a ball was bowled.

The toss was delayed as officials discussed whether allrounder Tahlia McGrath would be allowed to play, having returned a positive COVID-19 test.

McGrath, one of Australia’s best players all tournament, presented to team officials with mild symptoms on Sunday morning and returned a subsequent positive test.

Despite this, she was cleared to play, and was forced sit away from her teammates and wear a mask while she waited to bat.

She also could not celebrate with her teammates after taking a catch.

Had the match been played in Australia, McGrath would have been forced to sit out and isolate for seven days, highlighting the ludicrous inconsistencies in COVID-19 policies.

Her impact on the game was minimal, but was none the less the biggest talking point at Edgbaston.

After winning the toss and opting to bat, Alyssa Healy again failed to fire, out lbw for seven, but skipper Meg Lanning joined Beth Mooney for a 74-run partnership off just 47 deliveries.

Australia were looking comfortable, before a double piece of brilliance from Radha Yadav dragged India back into the contest.

First Yadav flicked the ball between her legs to catch Lanning short of her ground for 36 after backing up to far, before she plucked a diving catch off McGrath to dismiss the Australian No.4 in the next over.

Gardner pounded a quick-fire 25, but it was Mooney (61 off 41) who was holding the innings together before she was dismissed by a brilliant Deepti Sharma catch.

Sharma stuck out a hand to take a one-handed stunner.

After staring down 180-plus, Australia fell away towards the end and managed just 11 runs off the final two overs and reached 8-161.

India smacked 12 runs off the first over in reply but lost two quick wickets, with Darcie Brown bowling Smriti Mandhana behind her legs before Shafali Verma wasted her extra life to fall for 11.

But enter Harmanpreet Kaur, the Indian skipper looking like she would carry India to the gold medal on her own as she struck a brilliant 65 off 43 balls before holing out in the deep as Gardner picked up two wickets in two balls.

A Grace Harris direct hit helped stymie India as they were left needing 11 runs off the final over, but it only lasted three balls as Jess Jonassen claimed the final wicket to spark wild celebrations.



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