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Jayawardene hopes to make a mark with young team in Caribbean

Guyana, Mar 16 (UNI) Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene today said the West Indies tour will be a great opportunity for the younger players in the team to make an impact.

''We've got some youngsters coming through the set-up now so it's going to be a very good experience for those guys and West Indies is a very good side so we're definitely looking forward to the challenge,'' he said.

Jayawardene is leading a relatively inexperienced team - only five from their 15-member party have played Tests in the West Indies.

Sri Lanka will start the tour with a three-day match against Guyana President Select XI here from March 17.

However, among the batsmen, Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara have plenty of experience, with 164 Tests and more than 13,000 runs between them, but the absence of seasoned campaigner like Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu means that the onus would be on the skipper and his deputy to lead the way with the bat.

''With the changes we are getting and different people coming through the set-up, the senior players will have to take the burden and the responsibility and that is with any team.

''Both Kumar and myself are both happy to do that but we've got some exciting youngsters coming through but as soon as they hit their strides they will put their hand up and take a bit more responsibility and I'm looking forward to that but till they are ready it is up to us (senior batsman) to steady the ship,'' he said.

Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas will lead the bowling attack, while Ishara Amerasinghe, who was impressive in the one-day series in Australia, Thilan Thushara, Nuwan Kulasekara, and Chanaka Walegedara will share the burden.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan skipper has said he was happy with the quality of the replacements.

''We have about six fast bowlers of quality that we can choose from.

''We have some young, exciting talent, and we still have Chaminda Vaas and Murali, so we still have quality. We have confidence in those who are here,'' he added.

Sri Lanka have never won a Test in the West Indies before, having lost 1-0 in both series.

Jayawardene admitted that he was looking forward to breaking that sequence.

''We're very good at home. In our conditions we dominate but away from home we've been winning a lot (recently).

''We beat England in England, New Zealand and we came close in Australia so we're heading in the right direction. If we can keep competing away from home, challenging ourselves to be better cricketers every day that's the way forward.

''It's going to be a great challenge and hopefully we can win the first (Test) series in the West Indies,'' he concluded.


Story first published: Sunday, March 16, 2008, 19:03 [IST]
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