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Sri Lanka defend day off ahead of SCG Test
Ben Horne and Lloyd Jones
19:23 AEST Tue Jan 1 2013

Sri Lankan coach Graham Ford has defended the decision to ditch training just two days out from the Sydney Test by saying his team deserved a break.

If their Melbourne capitulation was anything to go by, the Sri Lankans certainly looked like a team in desperate need of a return to the training paddock.

But on Tuesday, their only official engagement was an afternoon tea with the Australian team at Kirribilli House, hosted by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

The tourists were left humiliated and wounded by Australia in the two and a half days of carnage that was last week's second Test at the MCG.

Ford said with so many injuries in the squad, he needed to monitor their workload and maintained his team's preparation has been up to scratch.

The Sri Lankans flew to Sydney and trained on Monday, while the Australians were enjoying a rest day.

The coach said having New Year's Day off was not a sign that motivation was lacking for redemption in the dead rubber.

"We actually had a really good training session yesterday," Ford said.

"We changed our arrangements a little bit and came through early yesterday and got a really good session in.

"With the amount of cricket that we've been playing, it was just felt that to have three solid days in a row would be a little bit too much.

"We'd rather make sure the practices are high quality.

"So a bit of time out today and we'll get stuck in tomorrow.

"I think the guys have hurt pretty badly after the last performance and are very determined to bounce back and do something special in this Test."

Injured pair - wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene (thumb) and paceman Nuwan Kulasekara (ribs) - were meant to undergo fitness tests on Tuesday but will be put through their paces on match eve.

Star batsman Kumar Sangakkara (broken finger) and fast bowler Chanaka Welegedara (hamstring) are already unavailable due to injury.

Dinesh Chandimal is set to come into the side as the new 'keeper should Jayawardene not pull through, while Lahiru Thirimanne will come into the batting line-up in place of Sangakkara.

"The injuries have been a tough thing to manage - some of the guys are showing signs of improvement," Ford said.

"We have got Suranga Lakmal (fast bowler) and Lahiru Thirimanne (batsman) to come in as replacements.

"We'll see how things go tomorrow in practice in terms of injuries. There are one or two with a bit of throat infection and flu symptoms as well.

"Hopefully everyone will be fit and strong tomorrow."

Australian batsman Phil Hughes said his team were on guard against complacency and were aware the Sydney surface would make the Sri Lankans feel a little at home.

Ed Cowan said the SCG pitch appeared harder than last year and believes a thick green covering will ensure it doesn't break up and suit spinners as much as it used to.


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