England women: Lisa Keightley 'not too sure' Australia can handle pressure as World Cup favourites

While England may be the reigning World Cup champions, Australia enter as strong favourites, and Keightley believes it's a pressure they may struggle with.

England are set to take on Australia on Saturday in their World Cup opener, and after a damning defeat in the Ashes earlier this year, there's a lot on the line.

A miserable 12-4 points defeat in the Ashes leaves England with a bitter taste heading into the clash, and Australia's convincing win has made them strong favourites for the upcoming World Cup.

So while England are looking to avenge their Ashes defeat and defend their World Cup title, Lisa Keightley believes all pressure lies with the Aussies.

Ahead of the tournament, the England head coach insisted her squad are in a good place and full of belief.

"We know what's coming, they know what's coming, we need to put everything together and get over the line.

"The players are in a good place and they're looking forward to it. There is a lot of belief. The players and the coaching staff believe we've got what it takes to win a World Cup.

"I think they're definitely different tournaments to a series or an Ashes or multi-format series. You get on a roll, momentum's really big. If you don't play your best cricket I think it's very easy to get an upset.

"I'm happy to be where we are and Australia be favourites, that's for sure. That becomes an extra pressure - if Australia look at it that way, I'm not too sure.

"But there is a number of teams where if you play well on your day and take your chances, you can win a game of cricket, whether that's against Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa, etc."

England's openers have been widely discussed heading into the tournament, but Keightley has confirmed that Lauren Winfield-Hill will rejoin Tammy Beaumont at the top of the order.

Winfield-Hill averaged 18.5 over the course of the Ashes, and was dropped for the final match of the series, but after a promising showing alongside Beaumont in the comfortable warm-up wins over Bangladesh and South Africa, she's set to keep her place.

Keightley said: "We're settled, it's definitely going to be Lauren and Tammy. I don't mind, I think Australia will know that anyway from the practice matches.

"As an opening combination they've got a lot of experience, they really enjoy batting together and since Lauren's come back to opening (last summer after a four-year stint further down the order) they're averaging 32 as a pair.

"I think in a World Cup you'd take that. If they can build on it even more that would be brilliant. Lauren in the last 12 matches is averaging 28 and I expect her to improve that and dominate.

"The thing they've done really well since they've got back together opening is how we start - usually they give us a pretty good foundation. We're backing both girls to get us off to good starts and cash in when they can."

The two sides are scheduled to start their match at 01:00 GMT on Saturday, March 5.

READ MORE: 'Write us off at your peril' warns Tammy Beaumont as England look to defend World Cup

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