South Africa series will be India's real challenge: Azhar

Sri Lanka lost all nine matches - three Tests, five one-day internationals and a Twenty20 worldwide - as they were humiliated at home by Virat Kohli's tourists from late July to September.

Since their third and last Test in Sri Lanka from August 12 to 14, India have played back-to-back limited overs matches, which included series against Australia and New Zealand at home. Rahane is the vice-captain of the Indian Test team.

A five-member Lankan team comprising head coach Nic Pothas, batting coach Thilan Samaraweera and bowling consultant Rumesh Ratnayake and team manager Asanka Gurusinghe were seen on the sidelines of India's practice session in the afternoon. For us each and every series, every match is important. So it's a dream for us to win one this time. India had toured Sri Lanka earlier in the year and had won the three-match Test series 3-0, with two matches being innings victories.

"We learnt how Indian team does well and the areas we needed to improve", he said. We are just focusing on this series right now. So we won't be taking them lightly. "We know the conditions here". We will think about South Africa when we go there.

All-rounder Mathews, who is returning from a calf injury that made him miss the Pakistan Tests, will be employed exclusively as a batsman.

"Yes, I got out on 45 and 49 in Ranji Trophy but for me it was important to play as many balls as possible and get the practice for this Test series".

About focus on the upcoming tour of South Africa: South Africa will be completely different.

Former Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin feels that even though Sri Lanka will be a challenging opponent, the Indian cricket team's real test will be their next assignment that is, the two-month long tour of South Africa.

Vanessa Coleman