Sri Lankan coach Tom Moody has said that the absence of his prime bowlers, Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan — who have been rested with an eye on the upcoming World Cup — would not hamper his team’s preparation for the four-match one-day series against India beginning in Kolkata on February 8.
“There have been a number of occasions in the past when Murali and Vaas have not been in the team,” Moody said here on Friday evening, shortly after arriving from the Emerald Isle.
“Malinga Bandara — a leg-spinner — has done well in Murali’s absence. Russell Arnold and Upul Chandana have also returned purely on merit. They are also experienced at this level.”
Moody also said the 1-6 drubbing the Sri Lankans suffered at the hands of the hosts in October-November 2005 would not be a factor, and that the team had come a long way from there.
Moody added, “I have seen quite a bit of cricket here in the recent past. At home, India have always been a force to be reckoned with. They seemed in good touch against the West Indies.”
Captain Mahela Jayawardene said he was looking forward to starting the series under lights at the Eden Gardens. He also added that his team had come here to win. “It is always a challenge playing India in India. We have been performing well and have begun winning away from home. It is a challenge for the young team to win here,” the 29-year-old said.
Asked if a team from the sub-continent had a good chance of winning the World Cup as the pitches in the West Indies would be similar to the ones here, Jayawardene said, “It is funny that none of the sub-continent teams reached the final of the Champions Trophy here last October-November. The team that gets used to the conditions in the Caribbean the earliest and hits peak form, would be favourites to win the World Cup.”
Jayawardene was also pleased with the way his medium-pacers had delivered the goods recently.
“When it comes to the pace department, we have definitely improved. Earlier, although we had a pretty good pace attack but our attack was largely dependent on spin.”
Speedster Lasith Malinga, the bowler with the slingshot action, received compliments from Moody for the way he had improved. “He is someone who has always strived to improve and enjoys a challenge even at practice. He is a strike bowler and should remain one.”
Meanwhile, the Lankans will play a practice match on Sunday at the Bandra-Kurla Complex ground against a local outfit and leave for Kolkata on Tuesday morning.