Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sri Lanka eyeing successful start to Caribbean tour

Sri Lanka begin their quest to create history in the Caribbean on Saturday, when the first Test in their series of two against West Indies opens at the Guyana National Stadium.

On their two previous trips to the Caribbean, the Sri Lankans have walked away empty-handed - losing 1-0 on both occasions in series of the same length.

But there is heightened expectation that they can achieve their first series victory in the Caribbean on this trip, when they take into consideration the relative strength of both sides.

"As a team, we have been playing some really good cricket and our Test record speaks for itself, and we have been competing away from home which has been an issue for us,"
said Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jaywardene.

"We are just going to do what we do best, and we are going to concentrate on what we have to do.

"We have been playing well, but there is still room for improvement, so there are a lot of challenges in front of us, and our goal is to confront those challenges, improve ourselves, and keep moving forward.

There is also a second objective for the Sri Lankans in this series - and it is to enhance their record away from home.

Two drawn series against England and New Zealand in the last two years may have suggested that Sri Lanka may be turning the corner overseas, but they suffered a setback when Australia won both Tests in their series last November.

"We have been dominant at home, but away from home, we have started to win matches and we have become more consistent,"
said Jayawardene.

"It has a lot to do with our mental preparation. The last three, four, five years, we have settled down nicely.

"We have an attack now that can penetrate in any conditions which is a good thing, and this has helped a lot, since you need to take 20 wickets to win a Test match. Once we found that combination, things have begin to turn around for us."

Sri Lanka's attack has been compromised however, with the absence of Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando, and Farveez Maharoof, but Jayawardene feels it's an opportunity for someone else to play a key role.

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