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Mahela Jayawardene - Cool, Calm and Collected

Sri Lanka's fortunes will be dictated by how they tackle India's top-order, writes Jayawardene

Wednesday, January 28, 2022
Conditions hold the key

Having returned to Sri Lanka, and arrived in Dambulla, we realised the importance of quickly refocussing, this time on the challenge of facing India, an opponent who has been more consistent than us in the recent past in limited-overs cricket. Winning in Pakistan was fantastic but that is now history.

India last played against England and won convincingly. I watched a little bit of that series and they played some impressive cricket. However, England play their cricket differently to the way we do and the conditions will also be different from playing in India.

Indeed, conditions will also be different since India's last tour here in August. Pitch conditions change in Sri Lanka according to the time of year. July and August is the inter-monsoon period while January and February is usually a dry period. Hopefully, the pitches will be better for batting.

Not only are conditions going to be different from our last series but both teams have also made slight changes. India have welcomed back Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar after injury and that undoubtedly gives their top order a stronger look. They'll also be missing Harbhajan.

Once again, we'll need to be at our best if we are to disrupt one of the best top-orders in the world. India's recent consistency in one-day cricket — especially in Asia — stems from their confidence in their batting. They have some very fine players and have clearly mapped-out gameplans.

Our task is to disrupt that batting unit by creating opportunities to create pressure. Our world-class spinners, Murali and Ajantha, will have a role to play in that regard but our unsung seamers, who have been doing a terrific job recently, must also make inroads early to contain India's explosive potential.

India, led by MS Dhoni in the middle-order, handled Murali and Ajantha pretty intelligently and confidently during the last series. But in the three games India won to clinch the five-match series our batsmen did not help the bowlers. We lost early wickets and were chasing the game after that.

So it will be important for us to build solid totals and give our bowlers a better chance of creating pressure. We have, I believe, one of the best bowling attacks in the world and I am confident they can cause plenty of problems for India if we have runs on the board.

Both teams, though, must adapt to conditions fast. No one really knows how the pitch will play in Dambulla but history tells us that apart from one tournament, the Asia Cup back in 2004, the pitches have been bowler-friendly. That being the case, Wednesday's game could turn out to be a really tough opening battle.