ICL: Indian Cricket League

Jayawardene aims high in Australia


Sri Lanka have landed in Australia in a buoyant mood and are confident of posting their first Test win in the country during the two-match series. Despite losing a one-day contest to England already this month, Mahela Jayawardene, the captain, believes the squad is good enough to compete with the new-look hosts.

“We’re confident we can play good cricket and if we play good cricket we will be in with a very good chance of winning some matches,” he said shortly after the team flew into Adelaide. “If I can finish 1-0, I will take that. If I can finish 2-0, I will take that, too. But the most important thing for us is how we compete. To beat Australia you need to be with them for four days. You can’t compete for one-and-a-half sessions and expect to win.”

Sri Lanka have arrived during a debate in Australia about crowd behaviour and Jayawardene hoped racism would not overshadow the Test series, which begins in Brisbane on November 8. However, Trevor Bayliss, who coached New South Wales before accepting the Sri Lanka job, expected at least some racist taunts during the tour.

“There are idiots in any crowd,” he said. “I don’t know whether you’re going to stop that 100%, but the majority of the crowd realise it’s the wrong thing to do. I think there will be one or two idiots, put it that way.” Sri Lanka had crowd problems in Adelaide the last time they toured and Muttiah Muralitharan is expected to be targeted by the home crowds as he looks for the nine wickets to overhaul Shane Warne’s record of 708.

“Murali has not played here for ten years in a Test match and he’s geared up,” Jayawardene said. “He sees Australia as one of the places he has to challenge himself. For him to prove himself that he’s taken so many wickets around the world, he’s looking forward to the challenge.”

Muralitharan will play in the tour-opener on Saturday, which is a hastily-arranged three-day warm-up against a Chairman’s XI at Adelaide. It is one of two practice matches before the first Test and Sri Lankan officials requested the extra game having learned from previous tourists who had come unstuck in Australia through insufficient practice.

Sri Lanka certainly need the preparation after surprisingly losing at home to England. They recovered to win the last match of a close series, which finished 3-2, and gain some momentum heading to Australia. “The main positive thing was our bowling attack,” Jayawardene said. “All four fast bowlers bowled well.

“But the disappointing factor was how we batted throughout that series. We learned a lot, we needed to brush up. But the guys have been working very hard. It was a very good series. We just couldn’t turn it around.”

They won’t be underestimating Australia, even though they have lost Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Justin Langer. “They probably lack a bit of experience and that’s an area we can look forward to,” Jayawardene said. “But we can’t take them lightly at all. They’ve got a very good batting side as well.

“We have to be very aggressive against Australia. We want to concentrate to our strengths. We will be aggressive but not to the extent that we will get involved with any silly incidents.”

Sri Lanka have been criticised for being unable to deal with the faster surfaces in Australia, but Jayawardene insisted this was in the past and they had shown they could compete here, in the one-dayers at least. “We’ve proved we can handle pace and bounce against quality opposition and it’s a good testing ground for us to see how far we’ve come.”

He also warned that teams should not underestimate Sri Lanka as a Test side. “We’ve competed well in the last 18 months - beating New Zealand in New Zealand and England in England. This is another place for us to challenge ourselves and see how far we’ve come as a Test team. That’s a goal we set ourselves three years ago. We’re pretty strong at home but for us to compete away from home we have to be very strong.”

Source:Cricket News

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