England gear up for tough test
Colombo - England will look for a good work-out when they prepare for the two-Test series against Sri Lanka with a practice match against a local team in Colombo from Thursday.
The three-day match will be followed by another warm-up game from March 20-22 before the first Test opens in Galle on March 26. The second Test will be played in Colombo from April 3.
England, the top-ranked Test side, must adapt quickly to the stifling heat and slow wickets if they are to avoid a repeat of the embarrassing 3-0 rout by Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
Skipper Andrew Strauss said he expected conditions to be tougher in Sri Lanka than in Dubai and Abu Dhabi where Pakistan's spinners repeatedly destroyed his batting order.
"The conditions here are very different to Dubai," said the 35-year-old, who has not played a Test match in Sri Lanka before.
"There's a lot more humidity and the heat is much more of a factor out here."
"Hopefully once the Tests start, we'll be very much on top of it."
The left-handed opener is himself struggling for runs, having gone 14 Tests without a century. Strauss has passed 50 just once in his last seven innings.
"You always want to be in good form, you always want to lead from the front," the skipper said. "I was quite encouraged by how I started to play towards the end of the Pakistan series.
"I need to build on that in the two Tests."
Sri Lanka's Test wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardene will lead the home team in the first practice match, while another international Thilina Kandamby will captain in the other game.