England v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Trent Bridge, 2nd day June 3, 2006

Moody: 'Our batsmen are overdue'

Sri Lanka's coach, Tom Moody, was full of praise for his team after a superb performance on the second day at Trent Bridge

The Malinga factor: Kevin Pietersen sways out of the way© Getty Images
Sri Lanka's coach, Tom Moody, was full of praise for his team after a superb performance on the second day at Trent Bridge. By the close, they had secured a slender two-run lead on first innings, and extended that to 47 for the loss of just one wicket. After a series in which they have struggled from the very first morning, they have earned themselves a glorious opportunity to square the rubber.

"It was a good team effort," said Moody. "We showed good energy in the field, we executed our plans and applied pressure at both ends. Everyone played a role in taking wickets today, and that made it hard for England to get away."

So often in the past, Sri Lanka has been a one-man attack, with Muttiah Muralitharan shouldering the burden. Today, however, he was ably assisted by Chaminda Vaas - rejuvenated by the wicketkeeper standing up to the stumps - as well as Sanath Jayasuriya and, most explosively of all, Lasith Malinga, whose slingshot deliveries kept every England batsman on their toes.

"I thought Lasith bowled superbly," enthused Moody. "He's a very different bowler, very unique. He's not going to get wickets through line and length and patience, which is the traditional way of getting wickets. He's wild and wonderful and not the easiest character to combat.

"Thankfully I don't have to face him," Moody added. "He gives away a few scoring opportunities, but a few wake-up calls as well. He's a full-hearted bowler, and throws everything into it, whether it's the first ball or the last."

For all that Sri Lanka had taken the upper hand, Moody was still rueing their missed opportunity, after winning the toss in perfect batting conditions. "We batted poorly on the first day," he admitted. "We had a good foundation going into lunch but lost our way, which seems to be a bit of a trend in our first innings. [We] recovered to a respectable position, but it should have been 300-350."

Even so, the rollicking last-wicket stand between Muralitharan and Vaas changed the course of the match, in Moody's opinion. "The momentum we took from the end of our innings certainly helped our bowling performance," he said. "The confidence in our dressing-room was a little bit higher than it was before. The partnerships added a lot of value, more than just runs.

"We're in the driving seat because we've got the bat in hand," added Moody. "But we've got to bat well in the first session, because England will throw everything at us. We're overdue some runs from the top order, so now is time to strike. Tomorrow's a great opportunity to make amends and if we are still batting [by the close] I'll be very confident going into the fourth day."

For Sri Lanka to emerge from this series with a 1-1 scoreline would be one of the great heists of Test cricket, but Moody was adamant they had never given up hope, even when they were being comprehensively outplayed in the first Test. "England are a good side," he admitted, "but we've come over here to win. We haven't played our most consistent cricket, but we've got a chance here to rectify a few things, if we are prepared to knuckle down and do the hard work."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo