Sri Lanka Twenty20 International captain Chamari Athapaththu said the three-match T20I series in Australia gives her side a great opportunity to prepare for the ICC Women's T20 World Cup in the same country early next year.
"This tour is very important for us because of the T20 World Cup in February so it's good preparation, playing the best team in the world in their home conditions," Athapaththu said on the eve of the first game in Sydney on Sunday, 29 September. "We have brought a couple of players to try before the T20 World Cup so it's a good opportunity for us."
As current holders of the ICC Women's T20 World Cup and having won seven of their last eight games in the format, Australia are overwhelming favourites in the series.
"It's all looking at the bigger picture and making sure that our team is improving and getting to where we want to be."— ICC (@ICC) September 26, 2019
Defending champions 🇦🇺 are getting ready for the upcoming @T20WorldCup says vice-captain Rachael Haynes ⬇️ https://t.co/hCgdblNwIl
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, have lost their last seven games. Athapaththu is well aware that the odds are stacked against her side, but wants them to approach the challenge with freedom.
"I always told my girls, play freely, play positive," she said. "We all know Australia are the best team in the world, they've beaten England in the Ashes and West Indies in their home.
"We will try to play to our potential and play our normal game. Our preparation has been really good in Sri Lanka, we have good players, some experienced and some new players. If we play our normal, free game we have a chance."
The last time these two sides met was in the ICC Women's World Cup 2017 when Athapaththu scored a brilliant hundred. Australia did eventually win that game, but the top-ranked side know better than to take their opponents lightly.
"We don't play a lot of cricket against Sri Lanka, so to have a standalone series is unique," said Rachael Haynes, Australia's vice-captain. "The last time we played them was a couple of years ago at the World Cup where Athapaththu came out and got a pretty decent hundred against us, so we won't be underestimating them at all."