Sri Lanka all set for CB Series January 19, 2008

Jayawardene defends Bandara's exclusion

Mahela Jayawardene has said that he will not need the services of Malinga Bandara in Australia © GNNphoto

Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lankan captain, has stood by the selectors' decision to leave out legspinner Malinga Bandara from Sri Lanka's 15-man squad for the CB Series in Australia while selecting six fast bowlers.

The omission of Bandara, who took 14 wickets from nine matches in Sri Lanka's campaign in the 2005-06 tri-series in Australia, has become a talking point in Sri Lanka, but Jayawardene said it was difficult to accommodate him as the second spinner since the team management had decided to go in for a solitary specialist spinner in Muttiah Muralitharan.

"When you've got Murali and if he is playing in the side, with the conditions we get in Australia, there won't be any room for a second spinner. It will not give us the adequate balance in our set-up. Our combination could be three quicks and a spinner plus seven batsman or we might go with six batsmen, four quicks, including an allrounder, and a spinner. Banda will only come into play if Murali gets injured. That's why he is a standby."

While Dilhara Fernando has been ruled out of the series due to injury, Jayawardene has six other fast bowlers at his disposal, including the inexperienced right-arm seamer Ishara Amerasinghe, who has played one ODI, and the uncapped left-armer, Chanaka Welegedara. "We have three fairly experienced bowlers Vaasy [Chaminda Vaas], Lasith [Malinga] and Maha [Farveez Maharoof] in the line-up.

"The other three are fairly new. Even though Kulasekera has been around he hasn't played consistently, Welagedera is a young guy finding his way in international cricket and Ishara - we picked him for his pace and accuracy. He's bowled pretty well in the last 6-12 months in A team cricket. This probably would be a place for us to see what he can do."

Jayawardene said a positive brand of cricket would help his team in the tournament. "A lot of our batsmen do enjoy the ball coming onto the bat which is a good thing. If our bowlers can pick up wickets on a consistent basis it will give us a very good opportunity. But I feel the area we could definitely dominate would be on the field, where we can create opportunities and with our energy, a lot of pressure.

"Australia and India are much stronger in their batting than in their bowling. The important thing is we concentrate really hard, bowl in good areas and pick up wickets. If we create a lot of pressure on the field and create opportunities, then we can control the game. Foremost we have to believe in ourselves that we will get to the finals," he said.

In 2005-06, Sri Lanka qualified with Australia for the best-of-three finals and lost with a 2-1 margin.