Mumbai: Unbeaten so far, a formidable Australia will take on giant-killers Sri Lanka in what could turn out to be an interesting Super Six clash of the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup here on Sunday. Buoyed by the two-run victory over defending champions England in the previous game, five-time champions Australia will go in with their tails up against an unpredictable Sri Lanka.
Australia's bowling attack is their strength and the Jodie Fields-led side showed it against arch-rivals England, when they successfully defended a meagre 147. The pacers would look to rip through the batting order of their lesser fancied opponents, though their own form with the bat has been a concern.
"We need to work on the batting. We were very disappointed with the total that we posted (against England). It was swinging a little bit earlier but we are a better team than that," said Aussie all-rounder Alexandra Blackwell.
Australia endured a batting collapse and lost half of their side at the score of 32 before being bowled out in 44.4 overs against England. They lost their top four batswomen, Meghann Lanning, Rachael Haynes, Jessica Cameron and Alexandra Blackwell for a paltry score of 27 runs. An 82-run sixth wicket partnership between Lisa Sthalekar (41) and Sarah Coyte (44) was the highlight of Australia's innings as it helped them post a three digit score.
The teams have met twice in the past with Australia winning on both the occasions but Sri Lanka had never defeated England or India prior to its league matches in the World Cup.
"It is a different bowling line up with Sri Lankans. They have got some quality spinners. Little bit more pace off the ball, from what I have seen. They are a form side. They have some tremendous victories so far in this World Cup. We are certainly not going to take this game lightly," Blackwell has said about the minnows.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, would like to continue their dream run and try to dent the World Cup hopes of a few more top teams. The island nation has become a force to reckon with after stunning England and hosts India. The Lankans would now look to bounce back from their defeat against New Zealand in their Super Six opener.
In batting, they seem to depend heavily on Eshani Kaushalya Lokusooriya who played a whirlwind knock of 56 off 41 balls against England and then followed it up with an unbeaten 56 in 31 balls against India. Skipper Shashikala Siriwardene said, "She is a huge advantage for us. (But) I believe that the top order needs to do well."
Asked if Australia have a game plan for Lokusooriya, Blackwell said, "She has been playing very well. One of the players of the tournament so far, I would say. Very dangerous player with the bat and scoring at rate she can and the boundary hitting ability of her. Siriwardene said Australia would be wary of the things her team has achieved in the tournament so far.
"Since (they know) what we can play and are capable of I am sure they won't take us lightly."
The Sri Lankan bowling attack lacked spark against New Zealand and they would expect Lokusooriya and Udeshika Prabodani to get some early breakthroughs and put Australia on the back foot.
Sri Lanka: Shashikala Siriwardene (captain), Sandamali Dolawatta, Chamari Attapaththu, Eshani Lokusooriya, Lasanthi Madushani, Dilani Manodara, Yasoda Mendis, Udeshika Prabodani, Oshadi Ranasinghe, Inoka Ranaweera, Deepika Rasangika, Sherina Ravikumar, Chamani Senevirathne, Prasadini Weerakkody, Sripali Weerakkody.
Australia: Jodie Fields (captain), Alexandra Blackwell, Jessica Cameron, Meghann Lanning, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Ellyse Perry, Erin Osborne, Sarah Coyte, Lisa Sthalekar, Renee Chappell, Julie Hunter, Megan Schutt, Elyse Vilani, Holly Ferling.