Australia hope a return to the ground that marked the turning point of their 2015 Ashes campaign will provide similarly fond memories two years later as they gun for a seventh Women’s World Cup title.
The Southern Stars meet Sri Lanka in their second group match on Thursday, the first of four matches they’ll play at Bristol’s County Ground this tournament.
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Their first look at the venue on Wednesday offered no great insight into the conditions they will face against Sri Lanka, the pitch well hidden under heavy covers as rain restricted the Australians to indoor training.
But with the forecast looking more positive for Thursday, opener Beth Mooney is optimistic Australia can carry on the momentum from Monday’s thumping over West Indies.
“The best thing about Monday’s game is we got off to a good start and we absolutely nailed it, the bowlers did really well and Bolton with a century really put a stamp on the tournament,” Mooney said on Wednesday.
“Hopefully at the game on Thursday we can continue that momentum rolling.
“We knew the weather would play a role over here so we’ll have to wait and see what happens tomorrow but hopefully the rain stays away and we get a full game in.”
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Their last visit to the ground in July 2015 saw Meg Lanning score a century as the Australians romped to a 63-run win over England, levelling the Ashes 1-1 after a disappointing start in the first ODI.
Australia never looked back as they reclaimed the Ashes on English soil for the first time since 2001.
Given they’ll play four of their seven group matches in Bristol this tournament, Mooney hopes it will prove a similarly happy hunting ground against Sri Lanka, and in the games to follow against higher-ranked opponents New Zealand, England and India.
“Hopefully if we can do well tomorrow, we can make sure we get the crowd on our side and come back for the other three games nice and strong as well,” she said.
Australia left it until the morning of Monday’s match in Taunton to settle on the final vacant position in the XI to play the Windies, with Kristen Beams’ leg-spin winning out over Sarah Aley’s pace.
Captain Meg Lanning admitted after that match it would be tough to change a winning line-up, but added the conditions and opposition would dictate whether Australia stuck with the same XI who dominated the Windies.
Mooney said it was “hard to say” whether there would be any changes against Sri Lanka.
“But the beauty of the Australian team is we have 15 players ready to go win a game for Australia, so I don’t think it matters who is in the XI,” Mooney said.
And while Australia cruised to a 4-0 ODI series win in Sri Lanka last year, they’ll be taking nothing for granted in a tournament where every point will be crucial and where both net run rate and the weather could play a deciding role in the semi-final match-ups.
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“We haven’t played a whole lot of international cricket against them but we were lucky enough to play a series against them in Sri Lanka last year and got a good look at their batters and bowling line-up as well,” Mooney said.
“This time will be a bit different as we know a bit more about them, but they’ve got a couple of really good players in their side that can bowl some good balls and they can hit some long balls as well.
“I think the interesting part about this tournament is we get to play every team which is a wonderful thing.
“Every team is here to win so every game we have to make sure we’ve got our ‘A’ game on.”
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka batter Chamari Atapattu says her team also learned from that series last September.
“If we bat first (on Thursday) we must score at least 250,” said Atapattu, who scored 53 in Sri Lanka’s opening nine-wicket loss to New Zealand on Saturday.
“We had a good start against New Zealand, we lost the first wicket after 10 overs and then Chamari (Polgampala) and I batted well in the first 25 overs, but then we lost a few wickets quickly.
“We recovered to score 189 runs but it’s not good enough against New Zealand who are a very good team.”
Australia’s showdown with Sri Lanka will be broadcast live on Fox Sports and will also be available free-to-air via the Nine Network’s streaming service 9Now, while ABC Grandstand will provide radio coverage.
Women's World Cup Guide
Australia World Cup squad: Sarah Aley, Kristen Beams, Alex Blackwell (vc), Nicole Bolton, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Meg Lanning (c), Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Belinda Vakarewa, Elyse Villani, Amanda-Jade Wellington.