England v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Edgbaston, 3rd day May 28, 2006

'Anything above 130 or 140 would be challenging' - Moody

Cricinfo staff

Tom Moody expects Muttiah Muralitharan to fire the second time round © AFP

Tom Moody, the Sri Lanka coach, believes that a target of over 130 to 140 could pose a challenge for England in the second Test at Edgbaston, especially with Muttiah Muralitharan to contend with. Muralitharan rattled all England batsmen except Kevin Pietersen in the first innings with figures of 6 for 86.

Trailing by 154 in the first innings, Michael Vandort and Tillakaratne Dilshan struck half-centuries and rescued Sri Lanka from a precarious 56 for 4 with a fifth-wicket stand of 125 in the rain-hit third day. Dilshan was dismissed for 59 in the closing stages of the day, but Vandort remained undefeated on 89, lifting the lead to 40 with five wickets remaining.

"Chasing runs in Test cricket when a wicket is deteriorating slightly is a very tough task and even tougher when you've got someone like Murali to face on a wicket showing obvious turn," Moody told reporters. "I would think a lead of anything above 130 or 140 would be challenging [for England] and we would feel very much in the game."

Moody for full of praise for Vandort, approaching his second Test century, given the team's recent travails in finding suitable openers. "He showed a lot of character," said Moody. "It was a big innings for him and as far as the team went. He played straight and showed a lot of patience."

Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, gave due credit to the Sri Lankans, after witnessing a similar fightback to that of the Lord's Test. "We just have to give credit to how the Sri Lankans batted. The wicket seemed to improve and it played quite well as far as the seamers were concerned.

"A target around about 200 in a fourth innings of a Test is always a challenge. Somewhere around there."