In the absence of Lasith Malinga and Rangana Herath, the Sri Lankan team management is hoping for the experienced batsmen to flourish and inexperienced bowlers to step up.

"Those two are the backbone of our bowling line-up and we don't have many experienced guys on this tour," Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said hours after the team landed in Mumbai for a hastily-organised five-match ODI series. "But we know this is a hard place to play cricket. We all will learn from this tour.

"Rangana Herath will certainly be missed. He is one of the most experienced players but it lets us give an opportunity to youngsters like Seekkuge Prasanna, Suraj Randiv and Chathuranga de Silva." Malinga is sidelined for around four months after an ankle surgery.

In the absence of the two seasoned bowlers, the experienced pair of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, both of whom are most likely on their last tour of India, will have to carry additional responsibility with the bat. Coach Marvan Atapattu hoped the younger batsmen will make it easier for the old hands and Mathews by coming good with the bat.

"If some of the other players in our batting line-up except the two senior players and the captain can take up the burden, we will do better," Atapattu said when asked about the specific areas he would like to improve in the coming series. "It's easy for me to say all areas but specifically if we can get up to better level in terms of fielding that will be good. Of course bowling is another area which demands a lot of skill these days with all the restrictions."

Sri Lanka are the second-most successful team in ODIs in 2014. And India will be without captain MS Dhoni. Still, the Sri Lanka captain and coach appeared guarded about winning their first ODI series in India, primarily due to the lack of preparations the team has had going into the series.

"Not that we were reluctant to play this series. It's not the ideal kind of preparation for a tour to India. India is a tough place to play cricket in and you need preparation to play India in India, especially," Mathews said. "We had been focusing a lot on our fitness over the last one and half months and suddenly this tour came up, so we had to take it. We'll take this as an opportunity to get our combinations right for the World Cup."

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo