Matthews stands tall but Healy, McGrath power Australia to victory


Australia overcame a masterful innings from West Indies captain Hayley Matthews to take the opening T20I in Sydney by a comfortable eight-wicket margin, with Alyssa Healy marking her 250th international by smashing a 25-ball half-century.

On a stifling hot spring day, an exhausted Matthews was left stranded on 99 when she could only gather singles in the final over as her exertions took a toll but it had been a statement innings from the captain who had spoken of wanting to lead from the front.

However, West Indies’ 147 was put into context on a traditionally high-scoring ground by the way Healy and Tahlia McGrath dismantled the target with 40 balls to spare.

Beth Mooney fell in the third over when she chipped to mid-off, but Healy and McGrath feasted on West Indies’ bowling in a stand of 85 off 40 balls, with the pair hitting six sixes between them.

Healy raced to her half-century by taking 14 off Zaida James’ first over, although she had been given lives on 27 and 48. Both were regulation chances: the first by Matthews at cover and the second by Shemaine Campbelle, which struck her in the face, causing an injury.

McGrath was only fractionally slower, needing 26 balls for her fifty as she took three boundaries in an over off Shamilia Connell.

Alyssa Healy scorched her way to a 29-ball 56•Oct 01, 2023•Getty Images

In the closing stages of the chase, Aaliyah Alleyne was withdrawn from the attack for two beamers at McGrath and Ash Gardner.

It was a more polished display with the bat by Australia than it had been in the field which included two drop catches – by Georgia Wareham and Phoebe Litchfield – and a couple of misfields on the boundary.

In any format, Matthews’ innings was the highest score for West Indies against Australia. It continued an impressive year in which she has averaged over 40 in T20Is and she had entered this series on the back of a player-of-the-match performance in the WCPL final.

She was quickly above a run-a-ball and took on Darcie Brown in an absorbing battle as the Australia pace bowler pushed the speed gun towards 120kph.

Matthews drove through cover, pulled a flat six over deep square leg, then edged wide of slip before Brown clanged her on the helmet with a short ball.

Her fifty came up from 36 deliveries, and moments later, she added another six off the expensive Brown with a disdainful flick over backward square.

However, as brilliant as Matthew was, her teammates struggled to match her. The combined tally of the other batters was 30 off 49 balls. Opener Shabika Gajnabi soaked up six deliveries before dragging on against Brown, and Stafanie Taylor laboured to 10 off 20 in a stand of 68 before being run out by a direct hit from Litchfield at cover.

Campbelle also lagged behind Matthews’ tempo although did manage the biggest strike of the innings when she launched McGrath out of the group over deep midwicket.

In her 100th T20I, Megan Schutt was the pick of the Australia attack with just 15 runs from her four overs (and 11 of those came off her last) and the spell also included a maiden. (ESPNcricinfo)

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