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Atapattu optimistic

By Our Principal Correspondent

DAMBULLA, JULY 16. "We have two very strong oppositions in Pakistan and India. But if we play to our potential in home conditions we'll certainly win," said Sri Lankan skipper Marvan Atapattu about his team's chances in the Indian Oil-Asia Cup 2004.

Describing the tour of Australia as good, Atapattu said, "It feels nice to be back home. We arrived only 24 hours ago and got very little time to spend with our families. The boys are looking forward to the competition.

"It is important for us to do well. Expectations are high, which is how it is for any host. We have to live up to it. We are high on confidence, especially after the manner we ended the Australian tour."

Sri Lanka opens its campaign in Group B with a day/night match against UAE at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium here on Saturday.

"We'll approach UAE like any other team. Play hard cricket. One should not be complacent" Atapattu said.

"The one against India on Sunday should be a good game. We all know it has a strong batting line-up and that Sourav & Co has been doing extremely well lately.

But we have experienced players who understand situations. If the top six batsmen perform, I think it will solve most of our problems," he added.

Atapattu described medium-pacer Lasith Malinga as a `surprise packet' and said that the team management will try and accommodate one or two youngsters in the game against UAE.

Regarding Sanath Jayasuriya's injury (side strain), Atapattu said, "I am not sure if he can bowl or not. But if he is ruled out from bowling in the entire tournament it will definitely affect the composition of the side. Then we will have to rethink our strategies. Having Muralitharan back is great. He is an inspiration for us."

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