Young Australian team tough to beat, says Dilshan

Tillakaratne Dilshan said Lasith Malinga’s absence should be seen as an opportunity for other youngsters to perform Getty Images

Colombo: Aug 3, 2011

Sri Lanka skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan on Tuesday insisted his team would not be taking Australia lightly despite the youthful look to the tourists’ squad.

The skipper will be without injured opening bowler Lasith Malinga for the two Twenty20 matches against Australia but said he wanted his younger players to take the opportunity to perform for the side.

“Australian usually play very hard. They may be a bit inexperienced. But they are tough opponents,” Dilshan said in Colombo ahead of the first T20 on Saturday in the central town of Kandy.

Sri Lanka hope to have slingy paceman Malinga back for the start of the five-match one-day series on August 10, which will be followed by three Test matches.

“Malinga’s loss is felt a lot,” said Dilshan. “But I see it as a good chance for the younger players to step-up and perform.”

The hosts were runners up to India in the World Cup earlier this year and boast a strong blend of youth and experience, but Australian T20 skipper Cameron White said his team would battle hard.

“Sri Lanka are in very good form. They will be very hard to beat in their own backyard. But we will give them a good fight,” said White, who was dropped from Australia’s one-day and Test squads for the Sri Lankan tour.

Sri Lanka go into the series with local coaches heading all departments in the team, a departure from the recent past, when head and assistant coaches were mostly foreigners.

Former Sri Lankan bowler Rumesh Ratnayake has stepped in as interim coach for the Australian tour, after former coach Trevor Bayliss quit in April to return to Australia.

“Rumesh’s influence, although for a short time, has been very good. The younger players feel comfortable to walk up and talk to the head coach, and discuss their shortcomings. I hope we do well,” Dilshan said.

The T20 series will not have the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) due to a lack of the necessary cameras, but Sri Lanka Cricket chairman Upali Dharmadasa said they were hoping to have the technology for the Test series.

He said Sri Lanka were also keen to have ball-tracking technology also included in the UDRS.