Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Dubai, 3rd day January 10, 2014

Two wickets changes outlook - Ford

Two quick wickets for Sri Lanka on the fourth morning would alter the Test's outlook considerably, Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford said, after Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan stalled the visitors on day three.

Misbah and Younis added an unbeaten fourth wicket stand of 113 but Sri Lanka still lead by 91 runs, with seven second-innings wicket to get.

"Hopefully early tomorrow there will be a bit more in the wicket after the overnight freshness, and hopefully we can get something going our way," Ford said. "If we can get two quick ones it's a different game. Tomorrow morning's first session is going to be a very, very big for both teams.

"Pakistan bowled very well this morning. There were a couple of good deliveries early on that got our players out. That's what we've got to strive for tomorrow morning, to get some good deliveries in place."

The partnership was Misbah and Younis' ninth century-stand together in 29 innings. Younis finished the day unbeaten on 62 and Misbah had hit 53. The pair also frustrated Sri Lanka's bowlers on day two of the first Test, amassing 218 together on that occasion..

"They are players who have done these sorts of things on many occasions," Ford said. "That obviously helps them in tough situations and pressure situations and they know they can get through them. There have been one or two younger fellows fairly new to Test cricket who have performed well in the Test match as well. It's not really just down to experience. They are class players who have got down and done the job pretty well."

Ford also lauded Sri Lanka's spirit after they had returned from a nine-month layoff from Test cricket to draw the first Test - despite conceding a 179-run deficit - and achieve a winning position in the second.

"The one thing that I've said in many press conferences is that the group of players that I've been fortunate enough to work with are a very tough bunch mentally and have often fought back from tough positions. The first Test was an example when we were in trouble and bounced back well. They've started this Test well. They are a competitive bunch and they are mentally tough. Very often when things get tough they seem to show just how tough they are. That's the make-up of the group."

Ford conceded Sri Lanka may also be short on bowling options with their present combination, after Tillakaratne Dilshan's retirement. The XI features only five players who can bowl, and with Angelo Mathews reluctant to extend himself because of a sore Achilles tendon, the four frontline bowlers shared the entire 49-over workload.

"We are perhaps a little short in the bowling. Dilshan always offered us an extra spinner when we played three quicks - we don't have that luxury any more. Hopefully there is a bit of freshness tomorrow morning, something for the seamers, and we can make an impact. As the day goes on hopefully Rangana does his job as well. Unfortunately we don't have any other options. We've got to get out and do the business with what we've got."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 11, 2014, 5:35 GMT

    Pakistan would score 350 and bowl out Sri-Lanka for less than 100.

  • Pankaj on January 11, 2014, 3:34 GMT

    Pakistan being Pakistan, there is cause for this optimism. Truth be told, Misbah had his dicey moments, but till any Lankan bowler takes the game by the scruff of the neck, these two batsmen are set to bat out the scope of a victory. First time around Pakistan were maybe complacent. Let's see Herath and even Vaas earn their stripes today

  • MOHAMMED on January 11, 2014, 2:36 GMT

    Agree with Ford, only ONE WICKET and Pak collapses. Because Pak tail starts from no.6. SL will easily win this match

  • Android on January 10, 2014, 21:25 GMT

    if they dont get 2 wickets for 2 sessions tomorrow, even then SL will be on top and in winning position. pak still trailing 91 and at normal rate, that can take more than 1 session. then the question of lead comes. with the form of batsmen and wicket, i dont think there is any worry for SL. its just matter of time

  • chami on January 10, 2014, 18:26 GMT

    DRS - umpaire like to raise finger ... if not DRS how many gone against SL , this two test.

  • Jerry on January 10, 2014, 17:50 GMT

    we certainly miss a bowling option since dilshan retired. next test if Matthews is only going to play as a batsman , no option other than to drop dinesh chandimal and bring in dilruwan as another spinner to back up herath in the spin dept.. they should possibly keep prasanna in the test format as he is the best keeper in the 5 day format .. very little misses behind the stumps .. in the 50 over or t20 format any one else could keep ...

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