Jayawardene lays down challenge to pacemen

GREG BUCKLE
Last updated 09:57 14/12/2012
Clarke, Jaywardene
Getty Images
BATTLE BEGINS: Michael Clarke and Mahela Jaywardene with the Warne/Murali Trophy.

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Captain Mahela Jayawardene has laid down the challenge to his pacemen to do what no other Sri Lanka side has done and claim a test victory in Australia.

Jayawardene has jumped onto the front foot following the strong criticism from former Aussie quick Rodney Hogg who says Sri Lanka's lineup is the worst new-ball attack ever to visit these shores.

Nuwan Kulasekara, Chanaka Welegedara and three-test seamer Shaminda Eranga have arrived without fanfare in Hobart, with spinner Rangana Herath expected to be the key wicket-taking threat for the touring team in the three-match series.

However with the Hobart pitch looking green and rain forecast for the first four days of the match, both Jayawardene and Australia skipper Michael Clarke will be considering sending the opposition in to bat if the coin toss falls their way.

"This is a sporting wicket from what we've seen in this season, from how the domestic cricket has gone about (with an average score in the first innings of the match of under 100)," Jayawardene says.

"That gives us a fighting chance if we do a lot of things right.

"That's what we need to do against a strong Australian side."

Sri Lanka will be hopeful of getting early wickets just like South Africa did, as Australia lost three cheap wickets in the first innings of each of their three tests in the series which ended earlier this month in Perth.

Jayawardene says his bowling unit has been rebuilt following the retirement of players such as Lasith Malinga.

"Teams have to start somewhere. We have lost some fast bowlers in the past and some due to injuries," Jayawardene said.

"We probably don't have the pace which you think which is required to win test matches in Australia but we've got guys who will bowl good lines and lengths and create opportunities.

"If we keep to that I think we stand a good chance.

"We've got three test matches to play. Once we finish that, I'll have a chat to Rodney Hogg."

Despite the likely seam-friendly and swing-friendly conditions, Australia have retained spinner Nathan Lyon in their side and dumped in-form quick Mitchell Johnson.

"If the rain stays away today it will be a good batting wicket for the first few days and then it might stay a bit low and spin will certainly play a part there," Clarke said.

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- AAP

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