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