Sri Lanka see backlash from Aussie ‘wounded soldiers’

(Reuters) – Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene has warned his team to be wary of a backlash from Australia in their three-test series after the hosts were stung by their series defeat to South Africa earlier this week.

Australia’s hopes of snatching the Proteas’ top test ranking ended in a crushing 309-run defeat in the third and final test in Perth on Monday, but Jayawardene took little comfort from the home side’s disappointment.

“I see them as wounded soldiers – they could come back stronger against us,” Jayawardene told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday, on the eve of a three-day tour match against a Chairman’s XI side.

“So we just need to make sure we are ready for that and start well.

“We can’t be complacent – we need to make sure we know from ball one we give them a good go at it.”

Sri Lanka have their own problems coming into the first test at Hobart next week, losing their last test at home to New Zealand by 167 runs to level a two-match series 1-1, with key batsmen out of form.

Kumar Sangakkara scored five, nought and 16 in his three innings against New Zealand, but Jayawardene backed the veteran to bounce back in Sri Lanka’s bid to win their first test Down Under.

“I am happy that he went through a lean phase because he’ll be really hungry for runs – that’s Kumar for you,” Jayawardene said of the 35-year-old stalwart.

Jayawardene also said he would weigh up his future as captain after the series, which includes tests in Melbourne and Sydney, after taking on the role for a second time in the wake of Tillakaratne Dilshan’s sudden resignation in January.

“After this, we get a well-deserved four weeks off, after about three years, so it gives me a bit of time to think (about) what I need to do,” said Jayawardene, who captained the team for more than three years in his first stint from 2006.

“We need to groom another leader as well. It’s very important to have that changeover done smoothly while the senior players are still in the side.”

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