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July 21, 2008
Rahul Dravid, the Indian batsman, has said it would be wrong to concentrate solely on tackling Ajantha Mendis, the Sri Lankan spinner, before the three-Test series against Sri Lanka begins on Wednesday at the SSC in Colombo.
Mendis, known for his variations, was hyped as a sensation before his international debut and in his eighth match, spun Sri Lanka to victory in the Asia Cup final against India with figures of 6 for 13. However, he remains an unknown entity for the Indian Test middle order.
"It will be a big mistake to focus just on Mendis," Dravid said. "We will just play it as we see it. We have come against a lot of bowlers in our times and have succeeded against them. Sure, he is going to be one of their four or five bowlers, but you cannot just focus on Mendis. They have got a couple of other guys [Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas] who have got 1000 [Test] wickets between them."
India are currently third in the ICC Test rankings, with Sri Lanka two spots behind but Dravid was wary of Sri Lanka's record at home and felt they had the right balance.
"They have got the right balance in these conditions. They are always a big threat at home," he said. "They have a good batting line-up that adapts well, they can bat for long periods. But we have come here with a good team as well. If we play to our potential, I think it will be a good Test series."
The series is of great significance to Sachin Tendulkar, who needs 172 runs to beat Brian Lara's world record Test aggregate of 11,953 runs, but Dravid assured that the pre-series talk in the dressing room was on winning the series and not the record.
"I hope he [Tendulkar] achieves the landmark here," Dravid said. "We are hoping it is in the first innings of the first Test on the first day itself, so we can have a big celebration. There has been no talk in the dressing room of either the record or anything like that. We are focused on winning the series and so is Sachin."
India last won a Test series in Sri Lanka back in 1993. They lost their most recent tour - 2-1 - in 2001.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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