History awaits Murali
Ace Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralidaran is poised to complete a record bowling double during the one-day series against India starting on Wednesday.
The off-spinner is just three wickets short of surpassing former Pakistani paceman Wasim Akram's world record of 502 one-day scalps, having grabbed 500 in 324 matches so far.
Muralidaran, already the world's leading bowler in Tests with 769 wickets in 125 matches, will become only the second player after Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar to hold two major cricketing records.
Tendulkar is the top run-getter in both Tests (12,429) and one-day internationals (16,422).
Muralidaran will once again be the focus during the five-match series against India as Sri Lanka pin their hopes on him to avenge their 3-2 defeat against Mahendra Dhoni's men at home last August.
The off-spinner appeared in good form in a recent series in Pakistan, taking six wickets in three matches which Sri Lanka 2-1.
The spinner said he was focused more on winning matches for his team than the world record.
"The milestones are not that important for me. Winning as a team is far more important. If these milestones come along, I am happy," Muralidaran said in a recent interview.
India will have to deal with a pair of quality spinners as Ajantha Mendis has formed a formidable combination with Muralidaran since making his one-day debut in the West Indies last year.
Unorthodox spinner Mendis played a major role in his team's 2-1 Test series victory over India at home last year when he claimed 26 wickets -- the highest by a debutant in a three-match series.
India opener Gautam Gambhir, one of the few batsmen to keep Mendis at bay in the Test series, said the team were better prepared this time to counter the Sri Lankan.
"We did not know what was coming out of his hand and how much variations he had," said Gambhir.
"But when you play constantly against the same bowler, tackling him becomes easier. This time, we will start on an even platform against him."
Mendis recently became the fastest to complete 50 wickets in one-dayers, achieving the feat in only 19 matches. He has also claimed 19 wickets in six one-dayers against India.
Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene was happy his team's faltering batting line-up came good in Pakistan where they posted 309-5 in the deciding match in Lahore on Saturday.
"The batting has started to click again and this is a good sign before we take on India," said Jayawardene.
India's batting will be boosted by the return of Virender Sehwag and Tendulkar, who both missed the last one-day series in Sri Lanka due to injuries.
The tourists also hold an edge in pace bowling with Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan in impressive form. The duo were instrumental in India's recent home Test series wins against Australia and England.
"India is shaping well in both forms of the game," said Jayawardene. "We beat them in the Tests, but lost the one-day series. Hopefully, we will turn things around this time.
The Sri Lankan captain is himself searching for form with 28 being his top score in the last 12 one-dayers.
The series was finalised to partly fill the gap created by India's cancelled tour of Pakistan in January-February following the Mumbai attacks in November.