England v Sri Lanka, 2nd ODI, Chester-le-Street May 24, 2014

Atapattu backs Sri Lanka's fighting spirit

Marvan Atapattu, Sri Lanka's interim coach, has backed his team to come out firing in the second one-day international against England as they attempt to level the series.

They lost by 81 runs in a truncated match at The Oval and the forecast suggests weather may have a say on Sunday as well, but regardless of the duration of the contest Atapattu believes the early setback could bring out the best in Sri Lanka.

"History will tell you that if these guys are pushed to the wall they come out with all big guns blazing." Atapattu said. "Even in that World T20 game against New Zealand where we had to win, the way that we played showed the character of the team. They play with a lot of pride each one comes with a big reputation that helps the team spirit. We derive the results that we want to have. Those kinds of things drive the team forward."

The loss at The Oval was Sri Lanka's first ODI defeat for the year after a run of nine consecutive wins. Angelo Mathews pulled no punches after the match, assessing it as a poor performance throughout, and Atapattu sounded a similar note.

"Our execution on the field was nowhere close to our best. We are a good team that finishes innings which is one of our strengths. It was one of those days when our bowling didn't come right we must make sure it does not happen again," he said. "We have been doing so well in the two shorter formats been brilliant on the field and batted well which have been our strong points, but on Thursday it was a different scenario."

The two areas where Sri Lanka lost significantly were during the Chris Jordan blitz when he blasted 38 runs off 13 balls and when they lost Tillakaratne Dilshan soon after the final break for rain which reduced the chase to 32 overs.

"They batted extremely well and for Jordan to get 38 off 13 balls was remarkable. He got the measure of the two bowlers [Malinga and Kulasekara]," Atapattu said. "We shouldn't forget that although it was a 50-over game it ended up as a 32-over affair. In shorter games this could happen. If somebody has a good day the game could shift very soon within a few minutes. The momentum shifted towards England.

"Losing Dilshan at a crucial juncture straight after the break for rain was the other setback. Dilshan and Mahela were going really well at the time when rain disrupted play. Then straight after the break Dilshan got out caught at third man. If he had gone a bit longer, another eight to ten overs, we would have had a good platform to launch. We missed that."

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