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'We're all prepared for settling the scores'

Sri Lankan skipper Hashan Tillekeratne said Monday his bowlers have chalked out a plan to penetrate England's batting during the upcoming three-Test series.

india Updated: Dec 01, 2003 18:50 IST

Sri Lankan skipper Hashan Tillekeratne said Monday his bowlers have chalked out a plan to penetrate England's batting during the upcoming three-Test series.

"We're all prepared for settling the scores of our two series defeats by England," Tillekeratne said on the eve of Tuesday's series opener in the southern coastal town of Galle. "We've been analyzing England's batsmen, and we now have a plan for them," he said. "Our spinners will surprise a few English batsmen."

England has won the last two series - 2-1 in Sri Lanka in 2001 and 1-0 at home last year - but Tillekeratne said "it would be a different story this time."

"We won't be repeating our mistakes again," said Tillekeratne, who took over the Test captaincy earlier this year after Sanath Jayasuriya stepped down to concentrate on his batting. The limited-over team's captaincy went to opener Marvan Atapattu as Tillekeratne's slow scoring does not fetch him a spot in the one-day side.

"Captaincy isn't something new to me, although one's always learning," he said. "I've represented Sri Lanka for the past 17 years."

Tillekeratne celebrated his appointment as skipper with some big knocks against New Zealand during a 0-0 drawn series, but has been through a rough patch recently.

Starting with the series in the West Indies, he's not been able to score well even in domestic competitions.

"I've not been getting runs, but my experience will help me get out of this lean period," said Tillekeratne. "I'm mature enough to analyze my game."

He said captaincy had not put him under "any undue pressure." "I don't look at captaincy as a barrier, it's had no effect on my batting," said Tillekeratne, now under intense scrutiny from fans hungry for Test success.

"England's a good side, but we've got an upper hand on our home turf," he said.

Tillekeratne said Sri Lanka had everything laid out for it - a venue where it's won five successive Tests and a spin-aiding wicket tailor-made for its crack off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan.

"The ball's in our court, and we're ready for it," he said. Tillekeratne said England's past two Test series victories came when Muralitharan was grappling with injuries.

"Murali was only half-fit in both series against England during the past two years," the captain said, confident the ace spinner will run through the opposition this time.

"In 2001, Murali had not recovered from a groin injury suffered in South Africa, and he had an injured shoulder last year," he said.

"Murali's a class act. We all know he can spin the ball on any surface, and now he's keen to have a go at the English batsmen." Tillekeratne said every Sri Lankan player was hungry for a win following a six-month break of Test cricket.

First Published: Dec 01, 2003 18:50 IST