Sri Lanka's captain Mahela Jayawardene

Sri Lanka captain ... Mahela Jayawardene. Photo: AP

SRI LANKA captain Mahela Jayawardene is bracing for a vicious backlash from Michael Clarke's men as the visitors try to break through for their first Test victory in Australia.

''I see them as wounded soldiers, they could come back strong,'' Jayawardene said before a three-day match with a Chairman's XI in Canberra starting on Thursday.

''We can't be complacent.

''We just need to make sure we are ready for that and start well.''

Easy to say, more difficult to turn into reality, based on Sri Lanka's most recent outing. A 167-run loss to New Zealand ensured the two-Test series finished level at 1-1, a disappointing result for Sri Lanka on their own spin-friendly pitches.

Especially when you consider the struggles Sri Lanka have had in their previous visits to Australia.

Sri Lanka, who first visited these shores 25 years ago, are still searching for their maiden Test match victory, having lost eight of their 10 games and drawn two.

That woeful record adds extra importance to what happens during the next three days at Manuka Oval, a venue renowned for large scores and fast bowlers losing hair prematurely.

Not that NSW and Queensland might agree, with hefty swing followed by variable bounce turning last week's Sheffield Shield encounter into a batsman's nightmare.

While Sri Lanka's batsman desperately need time in the middle, their unheralded fast-bowling attack could do with a bag of wickets before facing Clarke, Michael Hussey and company in Hobart on Friday week.

Shaminda Eranga (10 wickets at 31.8), Nuwan Kulasekara (41 wickets at 32.97), Chanaka Welegedara (48 at 40.18) and Dhammika Prasad (19 at 59.94) are hardly in the same class as the South African pace barrage of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander that tormented Australia in the deciding Perth Test.

''We probably don't have the pace that the South African boys had, but we've got a bunch of guys who are very accurate and will ask questions of the Australian batting line-up,'' Jayawardene said.

''We'll stick to that game plan and keep working at it.

''We'll get some wickets that will suit our medium-pacers and move the ball a bit.''

Sri Lanka's trump card is left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, the leading Test wicket-taker in the world this year with 55 scalps at an average of 20.94.

The 34-year-old has emerged from the shadow of Muttiah Muralitharan, but will be tested during his first tour of Australia.

''We thought it'd be tough for us to find a steady spinner after Murali, but he's done the job, sorted a few headaches for us in the bowling department,'' Jayawardene said. ''He's been around for about 10 to 12 years and has learned a lot from Murali.

''Rangana's a steady competitor and has slowly done his job.''

Jayawardene, 35, is expecting this will be his final tour as captain before passing the baton to all-rounder Angelo Mathews.

He also predicts former world No.1 batsman Kumar Sangakkara will get among the runs after a run of outs against the Kiwis.

''I'm happy that he went through a lean period because he'll be really hungry for runs - that's Kumar for you,'' Jayawardene said.

''He's one of those competitors. He'll be raring to go.''