The dreaded duo of Lasith Malinga and Muttiah Muralitharan will be missing from the Sri Lankan bowling attack but Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Sunday said their absence does not make his batsmen's job any easy in the second cricket Test starting in Colombo on Monday.
Pacer Malinga and off-spin genius Muralitharan shared 15 of the 20 Indian wickets among themselves and played a major role in inflicting a crushing 10-wicket defeat on the visitors in the first Test in Galle.
Malinga has been ruled of the match due to a knee injury and Muralitharan has just retired from Test cricket.
"Nothing is easy in international cricket. You may miss the most experienced bowler but at the same time there will be a youngster standing up saying that I will try to fill in the shoes and he may be a good talent," Dhoni said at the pre-match press conference.
"So it is not about whom you are missing, what matters is who is filling in the gap and who will be doing the job for you."
Ajantha Mendis, who was India's tormentor in the last tour, will replace Muralitharan but Dhoni was confident of taking on the dangerous mystery spinner.
Mendis had also taken six wickets during India's only practice game ahead of the Test series but Dhoni said his batsmen have got the measure of the bowler by playing against him consistently.
"There is definitely more exposure. Most of the cricketers who were part of the side have played him in the past quite a few times. So that really helps them in judging what kind of variation he has got. What is the kind of line he looks to bowl and the general strategy as well. I think it will be an interesting face off between the batting and the bowlers.
"Because we have one of the best batting line ups, they will definitely try to do well against him, especially when last time we were here most of our batsman could not read all the deliveries and could not do better than what was expected. So I think it will be a nice face-off," Dhoni said.
Dhoni was still unsure about the combination for the match but said India may go in with three pacemen at the Sinhalese Sports Club ground.
"There is a bit more grass cover on the wicket. The face of the wicket still looks a bit dry. Still, I think there will be more bounce for the fast bowlers compared to Galle. About the strategy, we will sit and have a thought about it as to what exactly you want to do. Where you want to bowl first or bat first.
"If you are looking to bowl first then 3:1 is an ideal combination. If you bat first then you will stick to 2:2. So we will see what exactly the thinking is and accordingly we will decide," he said.
Dhoni said the Indians will look to minimise the mistakes they made in the opening Test.
"That is crucial. I think you have to stick to the basics and do the basics right rather than thinking about the last game. Because we all knew what mistakes were committed on the field," he said.