GALLE - Rusty Pakistan and overworked Sri Lanka are set for an enthralling contest when they open a two-Test series in Galle on Wednesday, the last for the retiring Mahela Jayawardene. The former Sri Lankan captain, whose elegant batting has seen him rise to sixth place in the all-time scorers' list with 11,671 runs in 147 Tests, is due to quit the longer format after the series.

But rival captains Misbah-ul Haq of Pakistan and Angelo Mathews of Sri Lanka will look to put aside the emotions of a farewell series as they find themselves battling contrasting worries. While Pakistan may be under-prepared for their first Test series since January, Mathews said his team were "drained mentally and physically" due to a surfeit of international cricket.

Sri Lanka have been on the road since the start of the year, touring the United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh and England for Test and limited-overs cricket before last month's home series against South Africa. Mathews rued the absence of a cooling-off period as he announced on Tuesday that seamer Suranga Lakmal would miss the series due to an ankle injury sustained against South Africa.

Pakistan fought back to play out a 1-1 draw in their last Test series against Sri Lanka in the UAE in January, but have not won a series since beating England in 2012. Misbah said his team were determined to win their first series in Sri Lanka since 2006. "We have tried our best to get ready for this," the Pakistan captain said. "We had a good training camp before we came here. We worked hard on our fitness. Everybody is excited about the series. We know what to expect in Sri Lanka, who are a very strong side at home," he said. "So you need to play hard, disciplined cricket to come good against them."

Misbah said his team would target the retiring Jayawardene in the two matches since he could be the danger man for Sri Lanka. "He is one of the best batsmen in the world. We don't want him to score runs, because if he gets runs it will be difficult for us to raise our game," he said. "We will be really focusing on that and try our best to get him out early."

"All the players are fit that is what Waqar (Younis) as coach wants from us. He really wants to focus on fitness and fielding it really brings something special to the team." Misbah said his team were experienced in Sri Lankan conditions having played a lot of cricket there.

"You could say these conditions are not much different from Abu Dhabi and Dubai but in Galle especially, there is a little bit of seam movement and movement in the air that's something the seamers are really interested in," said Misbah. "You need to bowl well and as a batsman you need to negotiate the seam bowlers really well. "Good spinners also get help on these pitches. Both teams fancy these sorts of conditions but everyone knows that in their own conditions, Sri Lanka are a really good team, so you need to play hard, disciplined cricket to come good against them," he said.

Misbah was confident that his batsmen will be able to overcome the threat posed by Sri Lanka left-arm spinner Rangana Herath. Herath has often proved to be a thorn in Pakistan's side having taken 65 of his 237 Test wickets against them in 15 matches, more than against any other country.

"He is one of the leading wicket-takers of Sri Lanka at the moment but the confidence level of all our batsmen is very good against him," Misbah said. "Ours is more or less the same batting order and the same guys who played in the last series, everybody is confident about playing him. In the last series played in the UAE which ended in a 1-1 draw, Herath took 14 wickets at an average cost of 36.64.

Of all the promising battles in Pakistan's series in Sri Lanka, Saeed Ajmal's race for wickets against Herath may be the highest quality match-up. They are the only two spinners ranked in the top ten for Test bowlers, and each has held a place there for some years now.

They are vastly different bowlers, though their numbers have been similar over the past three years. Herath is foremost a disciple of flight, guile and unerring persistence, while Ajmal rips out of his wrist, then dips and spins it at the other end.

But in the last series, in the UAE, they shared something of a common fate. Neither spinner was as effective as he might have liked. Ajmal went at 42.10 for his 10 wickets in three Tests, and while Herath topped the wicket-takers' list jointly, with 14 scalps, he wasn't at his best as well, taking his wickets at 36.64.

"I don't think Ajmal is less of a threat against Sri Lanka," Misbah said. "That's more dependent on the conditions and the pitches you're getting, sometimes. In Abu Dhabi and Dubai the wickets were more grassy and more suitable for seam bowling. That's why most of the spinners - even Herath - weren't particularly impressive there. If there's turn, and if there's a little bit of grip, he's going to be a major threat for the batsmen."

The Sri Lankan captain said: "Pakistan have had a good rest whereas we have been playing continuous cricket. It's always good to get some rest to refresh your minds and bodies. That is the challenge we are facing as players. When you are playing constantly, you get drained mentally and physically. But the challenge for us is to try and be consistent. It works both ways. They (Pakistan) can be a bit rusty, but you never know. They are very unpredictable. They come out all guns blazing. They are a very formidable team when it comes to Tests."