Despite the eight-wicket loss against New Zealand on Friday, Sri Lanka skipper Shashikala Siriwardene is not fazed by the prospect of facing Australia -- a team which has emerged as favourites to win the ICC Women's World Cup.
"I don't really have to send any message to Australia. They know what we can do. They know that we have beaten teams like India and England."
But even though she exudes a lot of confidence and there is a constant smile that dances on her lips, Siriwardene is a cautious skipper: "You cannot underestimate any team," -- a statement that has become her trademark at this tournament, followed by, "We have to prove again what we can do."
She is a good talker too.
The loss to New Zealand, however, saw a toothless Sri Lanka. Even Kiwi skipper Suzie Bates said after the match: "We were expecting to face a much-improved Sri Lankan side."
If you've followed the Women's World Cup, you will have observed that the Sri Lanka's upset wins have come only when Eshani Kaushalya has played well.
Against England and India, she was in incredible form -- slamming a total of 112 runs in 72 balls. She is also handy with the ball... a bit expensive but with an aura that could scare batters.
But Siriwardenen, a completely contrasting personality to Kaushalya, says that the most vital part of her strategy is a successful top order: "I don't think it is down to one player," quipped the 27-year-old. "For me, someone from the top order has to click to get a good score."
Against Australia, she will probably face her toughest test. They're fresh from a thrilling two-run win against England and are unbeaten in the tournament -- most of their wins coming in pretty comfortable fashion.
Batter Meg Lanning has been in fine form and Lisa Sthalekar's reliability makes them a dangerous batting side. Seamer Megan Schutt has eight wickets in all and could run through the Sri Lankan batting order unless they're at their best.
"They'll be coming at us to win and we're going to have to be competitive against such big teams," says Siriwardene.
Sri Lanka are certainly the story of the tournament. But for it to progress, they need to be at their best. And on their day, they've shown they can beat the big teams.
Published Date: Feb 08, 2013 16:50 PM | Updated Date: Feb 08, 2013 16:50 PM