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March 21, 2008
Although Sri Lanka haven't won a Test in West Indies on their two previous tours in 1997 and 2003, Mahela Jayawardene is confident because he believes that Sri Lanka have begun to compete away from home in recent years.
"It's a great challenge for us; we haven't toured West Indies that often. This is my second trip here [the Caribbean] on a full tour; this is a great opportunity to get that first series victory," Jayawardene said at the launch of the series.
"As a team we've been playing really good Test cricket. We've been competing really well away from home, which has been an issue for a number of years for us. We've been dominating at home but away from home we've started winning matches and we've been pretty consistent."
Since 2006, Sri Lanka have drawn Test series in England and New Zealand and in both those instances they fought back after going 0-1 down in the series.
Injuries have forced key bowlers Lasith Malinga and Dilhara Fernando out of the series which gives the bowling attack - barring Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan - an inexperienced look but Jayawardene felt that he had a good blend of young and experienced players.
"We have a very good side, experienced guys as well as some new youngsters coming through the setup," Jayawardene said. "We've always enjoyed the Caribbean, the last outing (the World Cup in 2007) was brilliant. We went all the way [to the final] so I'm quite pleased with the preparations and looking forward to the series."
Sri Lanka had one warm-up game ahead of the first Test in Guyana and their batsmen gained valuable practise. Opener Malinda Warnapura and middle-order batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan scored centuries while Jayawardene made 99. Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath picked up 5 for 67 as Guyana President's XI were bowled out for 248.
"It was good preparation for us to play next to the Test wicket which helped us to get familiarized with the conditions," Jayawardene said. "We wanted to make sure we did what we wanted to do in the Test series, which could help us win the series. Overall everything was very good, the guys spent a lot of time out there in the middle familiarising to the conditions. The bowlers had a good run as well, and the batsmen had an extended run."
The first Test against West Indies begins at the National Stadium in Guyana from March 22.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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