Fletcher urges players to dig deep
Duncan Fletcher urged his weary players to dig deep to salvage a draw for the third successive time during the last two days of the final test against Sri Lanka.india Updated: Dec 20, 2003 19:16 IST
England coach Duncan Fletcher urged his weary players to dig deep to salvage a draw for the third successive time during the last two days of the final Test against Sri Lanka.
England pulled off miraculous escapes in Galle and Kandy but face an even tougher challenge in Colombo after Sri Lanka extended their lead to 298 after posting a mountainous 563 for five on the third day of the match.
The home side are expected to declare early on the fourth day, leaving England's batsmen five sessions to survive to save the series.
"We saw our way out of the last two and hopefully we can see our way out of this one too," Fletchersaid after a hot and draining day's play.
"The challenge is getting harder and harder but hopefully we can go in there and dig deep and show some of the character that we have shown in the first two tests," he added.
Fletcher rued the manner in which his batsmen had surrendered the advantage of batting first, being skittled out for 265.
"We did not take advantage of that toss we won at the start of the game although people must appreciate that these wickets are made for Muralitharan," said Fletcher.
"We were going along nicely until he came into the attack."
England dropped six catches in two days but Fletcher refused to blame weariness for the lapses: "Its just unfortunate that two of our safest catchers had a bad couple of days."
Mahela Jayawardene, who scored 134 in a record 262-run stand for the third wicket with Thilan Samaraweera (142), believed Sri Lanka were now in a position to overcome the resistance of a resilient English side.
"We have dominated the first two tests but have unfortunately not been able to finish it off. This is a good opportunity for us to do that," Jayawardene told reporters.
"It is not going to be easy because the wicket is not doing much but the bowlers will be able to attack now because we have a big score and can put fielders all around the bat," he added.
Sri Lanka decided against a late evening declaration to put England's exhausted openers under pressure, opting instead to bat England totally out of the game.
"We need to be in a position where we can put pressure on them and we can do that by batting them out of the game," Jayawardene said.
"We have not up our minds yet on what will be the target tomorrow but there will be a discussion tonight or tomorrow morning."