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Published: Saturday, July 21, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
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Galle: The great Indian dream of a series win on foreign soil starts all over again as Saurav Ganguly and his men prepare to take on Sri Lanka in the first of the three-Test matches on Tuesday.[an error occurred while processing this directive]India's last series win on foreign soil came against Sri Lanka in 1993-94, and the Indians would be hoping that the island nation proves a lucky destination for them again.The task is extremely tough though, with the absence of Sachin Tendulkar and V V S Laxman severely affecting the batting strength of the Indians. Ashish Nehra, who has been the most effective of Indian bowlers in the last two series, is also out due to injury.Besides, the Sri Lankans have developed into a very balanced side in the last couple of years and are a formidable force on their home turf.The young Indian side will also have to leave behind the disappointment of the recently concluded triangular One-day series where they were defeated in the final by the hosts for their eighth consecutive loss in a final match. The onus will obviously be on the senior members of the team to not only lead by example but also motivate the youngsters to play to their potential. Ganguly has been under fire for his dubious performances on and off the field but the captain will need to put aside all controversies to focus on the goal. In the absence of Tendulkar, he is probably the most charismatic member of the team and his performance would be vital for the team's chances as would that of his deputy Rahul Dravid who has been the most consistent of Indian batsmen in recent times. Dravid is a totally transformed batsman after that magical knock in the Kolkata Test against the Australians. He has proved he is quite capable of playing the big knocks and he would be required to come up with exactly those on this trying tour. The 40s and 50s just may not be enough.Apart from Ganguly and Dravid, the most experienced batsmen in the Indian side are openers Shiv Sunder Das and Sadgopan Ramesh. The duo, who till the other day were being seen as part of the young brigade and getting the benefit of doubt for their mistakes, would suddenly find themselves shouldering a majority of the responsibility with their performance under more critical watch than ever. The score of youngsters in the team have a godsend opportunity to prove their credentials and seal a permanent berth in the side. Hemang Badani, Mohd Kaif, Dinesh Mongia and Jacob Martin would be under watch as they take on the likes ofMuthiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas. And therein would lie the test of their skill and patience.With the veteran duo of Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad back in business, the Indians should not have much worries in the bowling department despite the absence of Nehra. They bowled beautifully in the only warm-up game against the Board President's XI thus proving that they hadn't put any rust during their absence from international cricket.The pitch at the Premadasa Stadium here is reported to be favourable to fast bowling and with Zaheer Khan also in the side, the Indian attack seems quite potent. Harbhajan Singh has become India's main strike bowler in the last few months and has led the spin attack admirably in the absence of Anil Kumble. With Muralitharan leading the charge for the other team, Harbhajan would have the ideal inspiration and the battl

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