Mahela speaks of protecting home turf

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> The Sri Lanka skipper says there's a lot of pride involved in playing at home and they must win. They have not lost a home series in four years.

Updated: July 25, 2008 09:34 IST
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Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene said his side would be determined to maintain their unbeaten record at home when they take on experienced India in the three-Test cricket series beginning Wednesday.

"It is going to be a really good challenge for us. We have to be very consistent. We don't want any team to come and beat us at home. That's the attitude we go with. There is a lot of pride involved in it and we would like to protect that (record)," Jayawardene told reporters here on the eve of the opening Test.

Sri Lanka have not lost a series at home against South Africa, England and the West Indies in the last four years.

They have lost just one out of 16 matches at home - against Pakistan two years ago.

"We are very consistent at home and we will continue to do that because as I have said there is a lot of pride involved in it," he said.

Jayawardene, however, denied there was pressure on the home side to win the series.

"If you can't do well at home, that will be an issue because we have grown up in these conditions and the guys are thriving on that pressure," he said.

"It's a healthy pressure we have in the team that we need to win a home series," he added.

On mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis, Jayawardene said the young bowler was expected to enjoy himself as seniors Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vass would share the maximum responsibility.

"It's good to have him, but we still have not finalized our playing eleven. It's good for him if he makes his debut. It's a great opportunity for the young guy.

"It is a luxury for him to have Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas around him because they are going to take the bulk of responsibility. What we want him to do is go out and enjoy himself."

Jayawardene said it would be a big opportunity for the youngsters in his team to deliver against an Indian team full of experienced batsmen and bowlers.

"They are a very strong team. They have got quality batsmen and their record speaks for itself. They have got some really good bowlers to back that up as well. It is great exposure for some of our younger guys."

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