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Aussies ready for pressure cooker T20s

By AAP Newswire

Australia know they must find a way to stop Sri Lankan star Chamari Atapattu as their Twenty20 World Cup defence suddenly hangs in the balance.

Australia's shock 17-run loss to India on Friday night means they likely must win the remainder of their group games starting Monday to advance to the semi-finals.

The hosts have Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the next two games, before what shapes as a crunch clash with New Zealand in Melbourne on March 2.

Net run-rate could also be an important factor if results go against them, making the next two games even more crucial.

Australia have never lost to Sri Lanka in any woman's format, but know all too well one innings can take the game away from them in T20 cricket.

And it's there that Atapattu is their arch nemesis.

The Sri Lankan opener averages 40.20 against Australia in T20 cricket, her highest against any opponent.

She also hit 178 against the Aussies in 2017 one-day World Cup to give them an almighty scare, before lacking the support that is crucial in the 50-over game.

"She's obviously in some good form," Alyssa Healy said.

"Chamari Atapattu loves facing our attack. She has hit us to all parts of the ground in the past couple of years in World Cups.

"But we will just prepare the best we can and get our plans in place. I know if we execute them the best we can we will be okay."

Since that 2017 World Cup, Australia's bowlers have devoted more time to perfecting change-up balls to come back against batters when they get on top of them.

But with a home tournament on the line, nothing will test that like over the next fortnight.

Also heightening Australia's alertness is that Sri Lanka just beat England by 10 wickets in a warm-up match on Tuesday, proving they are ready to spring upsets in the World Cup.

"We're not taking any team in our group lightly," Healy said.

"It's a really tough pool and we love that. We love going into some really tough contests and we won't take any of their batters lightly."

Meanwhile, Healy insisted the pressure of needing five straight wins -including the semi-final and final - to defend their crown wouldn't worry the team.

The Aussies buckled in pursuit of 133 against India on Friday night, collapsing from 2-67 in arguably their biggest ever match on home soil.

"We love a bit of pressure, that's fine," Healy said.

"We always talk that you can't go through this tournament undefeated.

"Obviously you don't want to lose the first game, but you often take more out of a loss than a win."