Sri Lanka in West Indies 2007-08 March 9, 2008

Gayle warns of Sri Lanka strength

Cricinfo staff

World record holder Muttiah Muralitharan will be a major threat during the two-Test series against West Indies © Getty Images

Chris Gayle, the West Indies captain, has warned his team-mates to be on their guard against Sri Lanka when the two-Test and five-match ODI tour starts later this month. Both sides are coming off a run of indifferent form - West Indies struggled on tour in South Africa and Sri Lanka won just two matches in the CB Series - and Gayle says the visitors boast a strong core of senior players.

He picked out the batting of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara and the bowling of Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas as major challenges for West Indies to overcome. Although Sri Lanka have struggled of late in ODIs, they won their most recent Test series - against England in December - and played some impressive cricket.

"Those two guys [Muralitharan and Vaas] have been their [main] wicket-takers in Test cricket," Gayle told CMC Sports. "You have the likes of [Lasith] Malinga, those guys are playing international cricket now and getting a feel and getting more experienced and so forth playing overseas.

"The batting line-up as well, Jayawardene and Sangakkara are in terrific form," he said. "You have to work really hard to score runs and actually get wickets against them. We are looking forward to the challenge and hopefully the preparation can be good going in against Sri Lanka as well."

Gayle was reappointed as captain after impressing as a stand-in for Ramnaresh Sarwan on the tour of South Africa and previously in England last year. However, he was also injured in South Africa and was forced to miss the final Test plus the one-day series.

"The build-up was very good in South Africa but unfortunately a lot of injuries came into play and then guys had to sit out for whatever reason as well including myself, I sat out a number of games overseas.

"It's a new series now so hopefully we'll be strong and ready to go against Sri Lanka. We'll see what the selectors can come up with, [hopefully] the best possible 13 and see how well we can have the right combination going in."

The first Test starts on March 22 in Guyana and the second match is in Trinidad from April 3.