SL coach optimistic about remaining Tests

John Dyson, Sri Lanka's coach, was upbeat after his first Test match in charge, saying that Sri Lanka were the dominant team and the only winners in Galle had rain not interrupted play on the fourth afternoon.

"The boys would have been very pleased to win. We were the dominant team in the match," said Dyson. "The morale is very good. We were in a little bit of trouble twice and we fought our way out of it to stay on top of the match. On this tour, we gave England a whacking in Dambulla in the one-dayer. In the Test match they were never in it. They never looked liked they were going to win the game. We were the only team that looked like winning."

Dyson was confident that Sri Lanka could win the remaining two Tests provided it were rain-free. "The way England are playing we have a good chance."

Dyson said there were a lot of positives that happened in the Test, which they could take forward for the rest of the series. "A couple of times when we were in trouble, the team fought really hard to get out of it," he said. "We bowled England out nearly twice. In the first innings for 235 and in the second they were 210 for 9 on a Galle track that was not particularly a big turner. Anyone who said that Galle was a spinning nightmare was watching a different game.

"The rain had a lot to do with the pitch. There was so much water around before the match and during the match it must have had some effect and the ground staff did a fabulous job to make the ground playable."

Dyson continued, "When you look at the final day's play we lost half an hour at the start and it cost us that amount of good light. The weather conditions is something we couldn't control."

Dyson praised the efforts of batsman Mahela Jayawardene and bowler Muttiah Muralitharan. "Mahela played a fabulous innings. He summed it up himself by saying 'I had to work really hard and there was a bit of pressure on because of the fall of early wickets.' I was really happy for him. He works hard at his game and he did a great job for us that day."

He said that Muralitharan could not reproduce his performance in the second innings because the pitch had slowed down due to moisture. Muralitharan took 7 for 46 in the first innings but only 4 for 47 in the second. "The amount of moisture around helped to hold the wicket together. I said before the game, the toss was not vital. With my limited experience of Galle I didn't see a real dusty turner unless the sun came out exceptionally hot for the duration of the Test match. And that didn't happen."

When questioned whether Sri Lanka could have forced a winning result if they had declared early, Dyson said: "The thinking was a score of over 300 which just gives you more of a psychological edge. It would have been England's second-best-ever run chase to get it. What we couldn't bank on was the weather. It was going to be the key. When the England innings started we were off after just one over because of rain. You just can't say what's going to happen, you just play the game and take it as it comes. It is dangerous trying to predict the weather, especially in Sri Lanka."

On the top-order collapse, Dyson said: "The top order showed glimpses of being in form. We can look forward to seeing one or more than one of them go and post a really big score."