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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 December, 2004, 09:40 GMT
Sri Lanka target top one-day spot
Sri Lanka captain Marvan Atapattu
This is the best time for us to make a mark and prove ourselves in New Zealand
Marvan Atapattu

Marvan Atapattu wants his Sri Lanka side to depose Australia as the best one-day side by the next World Cup.

Sri Lanka arrive in New Zealand on Friday as the number two team in the world after a run of 25 wins in 35 matches under Atapattu's captaincy.

"We want to be the number one team in the world," Atapattu said ahead of the five-week tour.

"But we'll have to work really hard. We cannot do that overnight but the aim is to be there by the 2007 World Cup."

Atapattu predicted a difficult series in New Zealand, which includes includes five one-dayers and two Tests.

"They are a tough team in their own conditions and, although they don't have a lot of stars, they have been playing very competitively as a group," he said.

"They have the advantage of playing at home but this is also the best time for us to make a mark and prove ourselves in New Zealand.

Muttiah Muralitharan
It is hoped Murali will return from injury in the Test series

"Only Chaminda Vaas out of the senior players has played much cricket there, so this will be a new experience for us.

"Fortunately, we have four days of training before our first practice match and then two practice games before the one-day series.

"This gives us plenty of time to adjust to the climatic conditions and the pitches. We'll try to figure out within the first week what our strategies are going to be."

The Sri Lanka squad left without champion off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, still recovering after shoulder surgery in August.

"I am pretty confident that he will be available for the Test series," said Atapattu.

"He says he is getting better day by day and bowled four overs at normal speed on Tuesday.

"The cricket board is arranging for him to participate in a practice game [on 27 December] and when he is ready he can hopefully join us in New Zealand."

They also left without coach John Dyson, who has missed the last 10 days of training to attend to personal matters in Australia.

The first one-day match takes place in Auckland on 26 December.

Murali to miss one-dayers in NZ
07 Dec 04 |  Sri Lanka
Atapattu dismisses team critics
19 Oct 04 |  Sri Lanka
Lankans unfazed by Murali absence
19 Oct 04 |  Other International
Atapattu gives Jayasuriya credit
16 Oct 04 |  Other International


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