CricketNext: Sri Lanka will use the three-match one-day international series against West Indies which opens here on Thursday to kick-start their preparations for the 2011 World Cup.
Sri Lanka have made sweeping changes to the squad which drew the preceding two-Test series 1-1 with their hosts, and seven new players have been included to boost their stocks.
"There are a lot of youngsters, and what we are trying to do is develop a team for the next World Cup," Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene said.
"We are going to try a few guys, some exciting youngsters. We want to be competitive against West Indies and see where we are in terms of our preparation for the World Cup.
"It's going to be a very good series because West Indies are a very good one-day unit as well."
Joining the squad for the ODI series are openers Upul Tharanga and Chamara Kapugedera, batsmen Ajantha Mendis, Mahela Udawatte, and Jehan Mubarak, all-rounder Kaushalya Weeraratne, and leg-spinner Malinga Bandara.
They have replaced Michael Vandort, Malinda Warnapura, Thilan Samaraweera, Prasanna Jayawardene, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ishara Amerasinge, and Chanaka Welegedara.
"Test cricket and ODI cricket are totally different, and you need to totally focus yourself on the ODIs differently," Jayawardene said.
"We've got new guys coming into the set-up. Our challenge is to try and blend quickly as possible, get them going and play some good cricket. We're looking forward to it."
Sri Lanka will jointly host the 2011 World Cup with India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, and Jayawardene disclosed that his side is again setting itself the goal of reaching the Final as they did in the 2007 version in the Caribbean where they lost to three-time defending champions Australia.
"Cricket is going to go on, and players will come and go," he said. "We just need to make sure we have the right combinations going.
"It is just two-and-a-half years away from the World Cup. We need to make sure we get the personnel right and give opportunities.
"If you are going to bring youngsters in, those guys need to play at least 40 or 50 ODIs before the World Cup."