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'Aussies formidable even without Lee'

Ahead of the ODI at the MCG against Australia on Friday, Lankan skipper Jayawardene refuses to lower his guard.

cricket Updated: Feb 21, 2008 14:11 IST

Desperate for a win to keep alive their hopes of reaching the tri-series final, Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene does not find much solace in the fact that Australia would rest spearhead Brett Lee on Friday.

Languishing at the bottom of the points table, Sri Lanka can hardly afford a defeat at the MCG. Understandably, Jayawardene refuses to lower his guard and insists that even without Lee, Australia would prove a formidable side.

"I've played Australia quite a few times and they don't take any game lightly," Jayawardene said, as if warning his teammates.

"That's why they've been so consistent over the last so many years, they don't relax at all," said the Lankan captain.

Irrespective of the combination that walks out in the middle tomorrow, Australia would remain tough opponents, he said.

"Any side which they put out there tomorrow, you have to play really well to beat them," he said.

Jayawardene said Australia has had enough distractions in the form of their uncertain tour of Pakistan and the controversy over the Indian Premier League contracts but still played well enough to lead the table.

"Even though they've had a few guys who have not been in form, they are still on top of the table. They still work really hard to make sure they get their wins," he said.

"I think we have to put a lot of work in and try and pick up our game," he said.

His opposite number Ricky Ponting, struggling to wriggle out of a bad patch, admitted his team has had too many distractions of late and said the players would meet to get its focus back on cricket.

"We all flew in from our home states this morning. We'll get together down here and just clear the air a bit. I'm pretty sure the coach will make sure that that happens," Ponting said.

"We've probably had enough distractions over the last few weeks anyway with all this stuff in the background and a lot going on," he added.