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Gold medalists team Australia, including Australia's Tahlia McGrath (centre) wearing a face mask, stand on the podium during the medal ceremony for the women's Twenty20 Cricket on day ten of the Commonwealth Games at Edgbaston in Birmingham, central England. Image Credit: AFP

Birmingham: Star batter Tahlia McGrath tested positive for COVID-19 but was still allowed to help Australia win the first Commonwealth Games gold medal awarded in women’s cricket, beating India by nine runs in Sunday’s final at Edgbaston.

Top-ranked Australia was pushed to the brink by India, which was led superbly by captain Harmanpreet Kaur, before claiming seven wickets in the last five overs for victory.

There was drama midway through Australia’s innings when the team confirmed McGrath had tested positive for the coronavirus before the game.

Relaxed rules

Had the match been played in Australia, McGrath could not have played. But the Commonwealth Games rules for participation are more relaxed to match the regulations around coronovirus protocols in host nation England.

McGrath reported mild symptoms to team management before the final and returned a positive test but received clearance to play from the International Cricket Council and also the Commonwealth Games Foundation.

Australian team officials said medical staff “implemented a range of comprehensive protocols” during and after the match to minimize the risk of transmission.

That led to an unusual moment early in India’s innings as it chased Australia’s total of 161-8.

After taking an important catch in the third over, McGrath had to wave her teammates away from her as they were gathering to celebrate the moment. She had to isolate after the match as her teammates celebrated the victory.

With Harmanpreet at the crease, India appeared to have a strong chance of reaching Australia’s target.

But when she was out for 65, the momentum swung back to Australia and India was bowled out for 152.

Happy to play 

Australian fast bowler Megan Schutt said the team knew about McGrath’s positive test and were all happy to play alongside her.

“She feels absolutely fine, so I think the positive result was an absolute shock to her,” Schutt said. “Probably the strangest part of all was not being able to celebrate with her.”

Australia became the first nation to reach 1,000 all-time gold medals at the Commonwealth Games — included 66 golds so in Birmingham - when the top-ranked Diamonds defeated Jamaica 55-51 in a tough netball final, avenging a loss in the group stage.