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'Eng need reproduction of Galle escape'

Duncan Fletcher says his players must take heart from their back-to-the-wall escape in Galle as they try to save the second Test.

india Updated: Dec 13, 2003 20:09 IST
Reuters
Reuters
PTI

England coach Duncan Fletcher says his players must take heart from their back-to-the-wall escape in Galle as they try to save the second Test against Sri Lanka on Sunday.

England, set a formidable 368 run victory target after Tillakaratne Dilshan scored a sparkling hundred, were 89 for two at the close on Saturday having lost Marcus Trescothick and Mark Butcher.

"The players need to take heart out of what they did in the last test and make sure they do the same if not better this time," Fletcher told reporters.

Fletcher believes the controversy sparked by the alleged sledging by Nasser Hussain at Muttiah Muralitharan during the test as helped pull the team together, leaving them ready for a final day scrap.

Hussain was cleared of any wrongdoing by match referee Clive Lloyd after the Sri Lankan spinner accused the former England captain "of using obscene language" when he came into bat.

"You could see the guys suddenly realising, 'hold on we have a battle on here, lets stick together and go out there and do well in this test', added the coach.

Fletcher defended England's high-risk decision to go into the match with only three specialist bowlers, which left them short of options as they tried to contain Sri Lanka's batters on the fourth day.

"The two seamers that we bowled found the wicket pretty flat; a third seamer would have found it flat too. We would have given him two overs and handed the ball back to a spinner.

"Where it was important was the second morning -- if the seamers had bowled a little bit straighter, where we had asked them to bowl, who knows what would have happened."

Dilshan, who scored 63 in the first innings and 100 in the second, was delighted to have finally cemented a berth in the Sri Lanka team after nearly three years in the wilderness.

"I'm happy because I was under pressure to score runs and I wanted to prove that I could play test cricket," Dilshan told reporters.

"I couldn't get into the side during that nine-test winning run but today I seized my opportunity."

First Published: Dec 13, 2003 20:09 IST