Kiwis wary of star WT20 Sri Lankan opener

Sri Lanka's Chamari Atapattu poses a big threat to New Zealand in their Twenty20 World Cup clash.
Sri Lanka's Chamari Atapattu poses a big threat to New Zealand in their Twenty20 World Cup clash.

New Zealand will be on red alert against Sri Lankan match-winner Chamari Atapattu during Saturday night's T20 World Cup clash at the WACA Ground.

Atapattu put England to the sword in a warm-up match earlier this week, with her unbeaten 78 off 50 balls leading Sri Lanka to a shock 10-wicket victory.

That sparkling innings included eight fours and five sixes.

World No.8 Sri Lanka will start as underdogs against the world No.3 Kiwis.

But NZ captain Sophie Devine is taking nothing for granted, and says her team will need to be on the ball in order to contain Atapattu.

"With Chamari Atapattu up the top there, it's certainly a huge threat," Devine said.

"When you look at subcontinent players, they're usually very good at sweeping the ball. But she's also got the power game as well, which makes her a really dangerous player.

"She can not only work you in the gaps square of the wickets, but because she's got the strength to be able to bop you over the top, you know you can't miss by much because she can punish you.

"I know the Australians have felt that wrath a couple of times."

Devine is the first to admit that NZ have underachieved at recent World Cups, and she said the player group were desperate to atone.

Although there will be nerves, she wants everyone to embrace it.

"I think it's a really special feeling to be nervous," said Devine, who was named the WBBL player of the tournament this summer.

"It's something you want to take on board. If you say you're not nervous, I'm not sure you care as much, because the opportunity to play at a World Cup is a special time for everyone.

"I certainly do get a lot of nerves, it's just about how you channel it and use it to your strengths."

Australian Associated Press