Colombo:India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Monday admitted that the experience of Harbhajan Singh would be sorely missed by his side in the five-match ODI series against Sri Lanka but said it provides an opportunity to young spinners to prove their mettle in spin-friendly tracks in the island.
"Harbhajan has been our pick of the spinners for some time. Whether you are bowling first or second or bowling in powerplays, he is the person. We will miss him as pitches here give assistance to spinners," Dhoni said at a joint press conference with home team skipper Mahela Jayawardene after reaching the island nation.
"Harbhajan is recovering from injury. So we have two spinners in the side, Pragyan Ojha and Ravindra Jadeja. I think they will try to fill in the space left by Harbhajan's absence. Of course we have part-timers also who have done well. It is an opportunity for both the spinners to prove themselves," Dhoni added.
India have been in great form in one-dayers recently having beaten England 5-0 but Dhoni said that would not count much and they would have to start from scratch against the Lankans.
"Frankly speaking, you know most of the international sides now. You know each and every player of their team. We have played against them (Lankans) quite frequently. But it is not how often you have played against a team or a player. You have to start from the scratch.
"It will be a tough series. It is tough to beat Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka though we had defeated them the last time around."
Dhoni felt winning the toss would play a crucial role in
the outcome of the games.
"The good thing is that our players must have learnt a lot from the last series. And one thing which went wrong was the toss aspect. A lot depends on the toss over here. In the day-night games and even at Dambulla toss is a crucial factor.
Home team captain Jayawardene said his side would look to carry on the winning momentum after their 2-1 series victory over Pakistan.
"Our strategy will be to try and continue the winning momentum. It is going to be a tough series and we look forward to the challenge," he said.
He praised his team-mates for the way they bounced back from 0-1 down in the series against Pakistan.
"We lost the first game against Pakistan. It was really tough for us to come back. We had a chat and we knew exactly what went wrong. Next two games was history.
"I mean the way our boys played was brilliant. They took the challenge and showed a lot of character. That is what the international game of cricket is all about. You do have your ups and downs. But we need to identify the areas we need to improve upon."