Sri Lanka in Australia, 2007-08 October 25, 2007

Fernando relishing Australian challenge



Dilhara Fernando is bursting with enthusiasm at playing in Australia © Getty Images

Dilhara Fernando has promised that he and his fellow Sri Lankan pace bowlers will give the Australian batsmen "something special" in the two-Test series this November. The side's pace attack, traditionally a weakness, is at its strongest ever and Fernando believes Sri Lanka have their best chance yet to win a Test in Australia.

"I think we have a good pace attack, especially (Lasith) Malinga, myself and Vaasy (Chaminda Vaas)," he said after a practice session in Adelaide ahead of the first warm-up on Saturday. "We've got a good balanced attack so we can give them something special.

"I think we've got good variation - swing, pace, bounce. We've got everything. This is our best chance to beat Australia, so I think we can beat them."

Kumar Sangakkara, the vice-captain, has an interesting take on how Sri Lanka's fast bowlers have improved: courtesy of a one-day innovation. "The PowerPlay rule coming into one-day cricket has helped us quite a lot in developing a pace attack.

"Earlier we used to [only] play a couple of pacers. I've been in Test matches when we've played one fast bowler when we play at home but now we've got three or four really great bowlers and really good support bowlers as well to come in. That's where we've been going right in the past two years."

Fernando is looking forward to the pacy tracks, and explains that the team has a simple strategy for winning. "Everyone wants to hit the deck hard so I think we can get good pace and bounce and get the wickets. We all know Australians are very good at pulling short balls, so we want to just do the basics, put the ball in the right area."

When asked if there was anyone in particular he would be targetting, he broke into a broad beam and said: "I just want to target everyone!"

Nevertheless, he says "it's a dream come true" to play in Australia. "I've waited seven long years to play against Australia. It's a great opportunity for me. I think we can give them a good battle. I am used to playing against big teams. I think we can do it. With Murali there's a big confidence. I think we can beat them."

Jenny Thompson is an associate editor at Cricinfo

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