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Law aims at Lord's lift for Lanka

AFP
Jun 02, 2011 at 11:50pm IST

London: Stuart Law faces the sternest challenge of his brief stint as Sri Lanka interim coach as he tries to get the side back on track following their stunning first Test collapse.

The series opener seemed destined for a draw when rain washed out the final morning of in Cardiff on Monday.

Yet there was plenty of time for England, with Ashes star James Anderson off the field due to a side injury, to dismiss Sri Lanka for 82 inside 25 overs to complete an innings and 14-run win that left the hosts 1-0 up in this three-match series.

Law aims at Lord's lift for Lanka

The former Australia batsman hopes playing at 'the home of cricket' will lift his side.

What made a bad collapse all the worse for Sri Lanka is that the strength of their side is a top-order featuring Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Thilan Samaraweera.

Law doesn't have much time to effect a turnaround in the team's fortunes, with the second Test at Lord's starting here on Friday.

But the former Australia batsman hopes playing at 'the home of cricket' will lift his side as it has many a touring team down the years.

Law, previously assistant to compatriot Trevor Bayliss, who ended his stint as Sri Lanka coach to take charge of Australian state side Victoria, made no attempt to disguise his hurt at the tourists' Sophia Gardens slump.

"It was obviously very disappointing but embarrassing as well, to get bowled out in 25 overs with some of the world's best batsmen in our line-up," Law told reporters at Lord's on Wednesday.

"We sat down for a good 40 minutes after the day's play and spoke about different aspects and ways of coming back."

Sri Lanka, on a pitch that had quickened but was not a 'terror track', had no answer either to the new ball bounce and lift of giant England fast bowler Chris Tremlett (four for 40) or the off-spin of Graeme Swann (four for 16).

"It can't be a skills issue because our boys are highly skilled players," said Law.

"But suddenly you lose a few wickets and you're under pressure. It's amazing what pressure can do to you, it makes the mind think wrong decisions."

England, with Anderson ruled out, are set to recall seamer Steven Finn, almost as tall as Tremlett, who has not played Test cricket since being dropped after the second match of the 3-1 Ashes series victory in Australia.

They also have the option of uncapped Surrey paceman Jade Dernbach, who starred for the Lions against Sri Lanka.

If Sri Lanka should never have lost in Cardiff, they now return to a venue where five years ago they defied the odds to achieve an improbable Test draw.

Mahela Jayawardene led the resistance at Lord's in 2006 with a fine century as Sri Lanka, 359 behind on first innings, clung on with nine wickets down second time around. "It's a good thing we've come straight to Lord's, it's a good inspiration," said Law.

"The boys are ready to show they can compete at this level, because if things continue like that it won't be much fun on the rest of this trip."

"We're 1-0 down, but we're not here to lose."

One consolation for a Sri Lanka attack without retired stars Muttiah Muralitharan, Lasith Malinga and Chaminda Vaas as well as Nuwan Pradeep, who has gone home with a cruciate ligament injury, is that seamer Dilhara Fernando is set to return after a knee problem ruled him out in Cardiff.

England, who have now won their last three Tests by an innings, with Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott piling on the runs, are finding that even when things go against them, such as the Welsh weather or Anderson's injury, they can still come out on top -- the privilege of a successful side.

But both England captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower are too level-headed to take victory for granted as they seek to overtake India, their other visitors this season, at the top of the Test rankings.

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