Australia claimed the first Commonwealth Games gold medal in women’s cricket after a tense nine-run win over India, with Tahlia McGrath playing in the final despite a positive Covid-19 test.
Cricket Australia confirmed McGrath had mild symptoms before testing positive on Sunday but, despite being absent during the national anthems beforehand, she was given the go-ahead to feature at Edgbaston, with the International Cricket Council approving the star all-rounder’s participation.
She made two with the bat as Australia amassed 161 for eight and leaked 24 in her two overs as India, needing 13 from the final 10 balls with three wickets in hand, collapsed to 152 all out in 19.3 overs.
McGrath pointedly warned her team-mates not to come near her after taking the catch to dismiss Shafali Verma, while the sides avoided shaking hands as is customary at the end of a contest but McGrath was at the presentation ceremony, wearing a facemask as she was awarded her gold medal.
She did not shake hands with Commonwealth Games Federation president Dame Louise Martin after accepting the gong around her neck amid a range of measures approved by health experts and team and match officials that allowed the 26-year-old to feature in this gold medal match.
While McGrath’s inclusion may prove contentious in some quarters, Australia, holders of both limited-overs World Cups and the Ashes, once again proved untouchable, winning all their matches in Birmingham.
This was a rematch of the 2020 T20 World Cup final and this tournament opener, both of which Australia won, although India were vocally backed by a near full house, with hosts England’s elimination seemingly not denting attendance figures.
Beth Mooney top-scored for Australia with a superb 61 from 41 balls but departed following Deepti Sharma’s outstanding one-handed catch, with the opener one of five wickets to fall in the last five overs for the addition of just 36 runs as the gold medal favourites were pegged back.
India slipped to 22 for two in response but captain Harmanpreet Kaur skilfully led the recovery alongside Jemimah Rodrigues. The pair put on 96 before Rodrigues was castled for 33 after missing a swipe at Megan Schutt.
In the next over, Harmanpreet departed for 65 off 43 deliveries as an attempted scoop bobbled off her helmet and into wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy’s gloves. Harmanpreet was one of three wickets to fall to off-spinner Ashleigh Gardner, who conceded just 16 runs from her three overs.
India, who had won six of their previous 24 T20s against Australia, needed 11 off the final over but Meghna Singh was needlessly run out coming back for a second before Jess Jonassen gained an lbw verdict over Yastika Bhatia, who failed to overturn a review as Meg Lanning’s side started to celebrate.