GALLE, Sri Lanka _ England captain Andrew Strauss said the focus is more on rising to the challenge of coping with subcontinental conditions in the two-match series against Sri Lanka rather than defending the team's status as No. 1 in test cricket.
Strauss said that it's important his team bounces back from the 3-0 test series defeat to Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates earlier this year, a loss that was largely due to its inability to play spin.
``I think we've got a point to prove, obviously we have to bounce back after those results against Pakistan,'' Strauss said Sunday of the series that starts Monday. ``We are not focussing on the world rankings at the moment; it is not of great consequence to us.
``I think if you are focussing too much on that then you are taking out what's important, which is trying to win. We know the extent of the challenge. We've got be be very good to overcome those challenges, that's plenty enough for us to focus on. The rankings will take care of themselves.''
England overtook India as the top-ranked test team after winning a series 4-0 against the same opponent.
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene wants his players to become more consistent. His team has lost test series to England, Australia, Pakistan and South Africa in the past year, although it also won its first test in South Africa, which was also its first victory since spinner Muttiah Muralitharan retired in July 2010.
Sri Lanka will be boosted by the return of six test specialists. Wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene is back after recovering from hernia surgery, while veteran batsman Thilan Samaraweera, opener Tharanga Paranavitana and offspinner Suraj Randiv are also back.
Chamara Silva's brilliant 163 in the second warmup match earned him a callup to the test squad for the first time in four years following Anjelo Mathews' injury, though it is uncertain if the middle-order batsman will make the team.
The teams have played each other 24 times since the first test in 1982. England leads with nine wins while Sri Lanka has six.
The teams met last May and June in England, with the hosts winning the three-test series 1-0 after Sri Lanka collapsed for 82 inside 25 overs in the second innings of the opening match to lose by an innings and 14 runs.
Sri Lanka, which won its last home test series against England four years ago, has thrived at Galle International Stadium. The pitch assists spin bowling and the team has won nine out of 18 tests, with Muralitharan being the best performer on most occasions.
With the retirement of Muralitharan, however, England appears to have a better quality slow bowling attack with offspinner Graeme Swann and left-arm finger spiner Monty Panesar in its ranks.
Sri Lanka (from): Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakakaratne Dilshan, Tharanga Parnavitana, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kumar Sangakkara, Thilan Samaraweera, Dinesh Chandimal, Prasanna Jayawardene, Suranga Lakmal, Dhammika Prasad, Chanaka Welagedera, Suraj Randiv, Rangana Herath, Chamara Silva.
England (from): Andrew Strauss (captain), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Steven Davies, Steven Finn, Monty Panesar, Samit Patel, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Graeme Swann, James Tredwell, Jonathan Trott.