India will look to start the new season on a winning note when they clash with on-form Sri Lanka in a one-day series starting in Hambantota on Saturday.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Indians have endured a horrid time over the last 12 months, trounced in both the Test and one-day series in England and Australia.
The World Cup champions also failed to reach the Asia Cup final in Bangladesh in March.
“It’s the start of a new season for us. It’s nice to start afresh on a positive note,” Dhoni, the Indian captain, told reporters ahead of the five-match series.
“There are certain areas we want to improve on, and it’s a good time for us to test how much we have improved and how much more we can improve.”
Dhoni’s men, who enjoyed a rare six-week break after the Indian Premier League, have a busy season ahead, hosting New Zealand, England, Pakistan and Australia.
“I think it was a very good break and we wanted to make the most of it,” said Dhoni. “The good thing is that the energy level is up.”
India will look for runs from their top order, which is without leading run-getter Sachin Tendulkar, who opted out of the tour to spend time with his family.
The return of explosive opener Virender Sehwag and pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, after they both missed the Asia Cup due to injuries, will bolster the batting and bowling.
Sri Lanka are determined to build on their recent success which saw them win both the Test and one-day home series against Pakistan under Mahela Jayawardene.
“We have just finished a series against Pakistan successfully and it is important to continue with the good work,” the Sri Lankan captain said.
“We have to work hard to reach the goals we want to attain. It’s a good opportunity against India and we need to take the team forward.”
Sri Lanka have recalled veteran left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, who was rested for the last three one-dayers against Pakistan, and also named uncapped fast bowler Isuru Udana in their squad.
Hambantota will also host the second one-dayer on July 24, while the last three matches will be played in Colombo (July 28 and 31) and Pallekele (August 4).
The one-day series will be followed by a one-off Twenty20 international in Pallekele on August 7.