Could not be playing tougher opponents: Mahela

Last Updated: Fri, Jul 20, 2012 04:51 hrs

After a week’s break following the Pakistan series, all the guys are really excited about the prospect of locking horns once again with India. During the seven-hour coach ride to Hambantota yesterday, traveling into Sri Lanka's deep south, you could feel the sense of anticipation.

India may have a slipped down the international ratings in the past year - like us - the fact is that they are clearly a very strong side. In the subcontinent they are especially strong and the reality is that we could not be playing tougher opponents.

Given how dangerous India are, we have to be at our very best. I believe we have grown in confidence in the past six months and we are not making as many mistakes as we were making last year. That is good because against India there is no room for mistakes.

As captain I am hoping we build upon the success of our recent Pakistan tour. We played some really positive cricket and performed during those tough make-or-break moments that determine the result of matches.

Pakistan, though, are a different team. They have a really top-class bowling attack and it was very tough batting against the likes of Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Junaid Khan and in the one-day game, Shahid Afridi. However, their batting lacked the experience and skill of India's.

Even without Sachin (Tendulkar) and Yuvraj - who we all hope recovers as quickly as possible and returns to the Indian team - they are spoilt for choice. Some really talented youngsters have broken into the team and made them a really strong unit.

For me this is going to be the key challenge for us: to ensure that we put pressure on India’s batsmen. That will require us taking wickets and it will also require the bowlers to hunt in a pack. We need everyone to be very disciplined and we need to work together if we are to succeed.

As I had mentioned earlier, India have not played for a while and the players may just be a little rusty. I hope we are able to exploit that by hitting them early in the first game this weekend. That will give us a chance to exert greater pressure and build momentum. The first game is therefore critical.

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