Dambulla:India might have beaten Sri Lanka 3-2 last August with a young bunch of cricketers but captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Tuesday said seniors Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag would be the key to the visitors' fortunes in the one-day series starting here on Wednesday.
Tendulkar and Sehwag were not part of the team last year with the former injuring himself in the final Test in Colombo before the ODIs while the latter was ruled out after an injury during training.
"Sri Lanka are a strong team. A lot depends on the conditions here and we have to adapt quickly. But we have two experienced players in Tendulkar and Sehwag with us this time," he said at the pre-match press conference.
Dhoni said he was aware of the threat from the home team's spin twins, Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis, but said his team was well prepared to face the challenge.
He admitted his side won't be able to stop Muralitharan from becoming the highest wicket-taker in one-day cricket but said the veteran spin wizard will have to earn his wickets.
"He is a brilliant bowler and has been very consistent. He is a champion bowler but we will make him work very hard for the record," said Dhoni.
Already the world's leading wicket-taker in Tests with 769 scalps in 125 matches, 36-year-old Muralitharan needs just three wickets to surpass former Pakistani fast bowler Wasim Akram's mark of 502 in One-Day Internationals.
"We will be very happy when he gets the record. It is another milestone for him and another one for Sri Lankan cricket," Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene said.
"Everyone knows the amount of hard work he has put in over the last 16 years, going through a lot of hardship. Now, after a few games, or even tomorrow, he might hold the records in both Tests and one-dayers."
Jayawardene admitted that India possessed a stronger batting this time but said his team was keen to clinch a fourth successive One-day series after beating Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
"India are a very competitive side. They pose a tough challenge for us. Their batting looks better this time, with Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag returning to the one-day squad. I think batting will be their strength. They also have two good pacemen (Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma)."
Asked about his poor run of from, the home team captain, without a half-century in his last 12 one-dayers, said he had been working hard on his batting and hoped to regain form.
"I'd like to get more runs and contribute more to the team's totals. This is something I have been working really hard. I hope I get it right against the Indians," said Jayawardene.