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Having won the three-match ODI series 2-1 against Pakistan last week, Sri Lanka now turns its attention towards India for a five-match series that begins tonight in Dambulla.

The Sri Lankans are buoyant after a convincing win over Pakistan, but the recent 5-0 demolition job of England means the powerful Indians will be no less confident of a series victory.

Since the World Cup win of 1996, Sri Lanka consistently has been a tough team and currently reigns as Asian champion. And yet if there are headlines about Asian cricket, they mostly have to do with the rise of India, the scandals of Pakistan and the continuing ineptitude of Bangladesh.

Muttiah Muralitharan, the biggest name in Sri Lankan cricket and the game's highest Test wicket taker, has lived his career under a cloud of suspicion over the legality of his bowling action. The controversy dies down for a while but inevitably returns any time a former opponent releases an autobiography or someone asks India's retired spin-king Bishan Bedi what he thinks of Muralitharan – "javelin thrower" is as good as it gets.

Muralitharan has persevered and has his sights set on yet another world record, for the most wickets in ODI cricket, currently held by former Pakistani great Wasim Akram. Muralitharan is only the second man to ever take 500 ODI wickets, and three more scalps will take him past Akram.

If Muralitharan has any rivals for the title of best spin bowler in the world, it comes from teammate Ajantha Mendis, who recently became the fastest bowler to reach 50 ODI wickets. Mendis tied the Indian batsmen in knots when they played each other last year and will look to continue the stranglehold. Few sides play spinners better than India, but Mendis is sure to add to his 59 victims.

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