Southampton, Jun 20: Sri Lanka may be staring down the barrel of a heavy test-series defeat to England but interim coach Stuart Law insists his team have no reason to be pessimistic going into the tour-ending limited-overs matches.
Already 1-0 down in the three-match series, the Sri Lankans have their work cut out to avoid a second defeat at the hands of the rampant hosts going into the last day of the final test in Southampton.
Their bowling attack has been decimated by the recent retirements of spin great Muttiah Muralitharan and paceman Lasith Malinga, while key batsmen Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara have yet to hit a test 50 between them in England. The issues of political interference from back home also hang like a cloud over the squad.
But Law, who is in temporary charge following the departure of fellow Australian Trevor Bayliss after the World Cup, said there was still plenty to play for on this tour, with one Twenty20 match and three one-day internationals still to come.
"The boys are happy, they just get on with their cricket," Law said. "It hasn't gone well for us but that's not to do with anything in the dressing room. It's because England have been very, very good.
"We probably haven't stepped up to the mark a few times, but we have at certain times and the dressing room is very happy. They boys always walk in with a smile on their face. Whatever else happens in the next few weeks, we have no control over it. We have to go out there and play some cricket."
Sri Lanka will resume the final test on Monday on 112-3 in its second innings, still 81 runs behind England.
Any slim chance of Sri Lanka launching a fightback on day four was dashed by Ian Bell, whose exquisite innings of 119 not out continued his dominance of the tourists' bowling attack this series.
They have only got the Warwickshire batsman out once, with Bell having already struck knocks of 103 not out, 52 and 57 not out in matches at Cardiff and Lord's.
"He's a pain in the backside, to be honest with you, the way he plays. He keeps it very simple, scores quickly but hits the ball in 360 degree arcs," Law said. "It's very difficult to contain. He's full of confidence and you can see that in the way he plays. Hats off to him.
"I think the England team at the moment is a really happy team. They know their roles."
Law is on trial for the permanent coaching position with Sri Lanka and he has already stated that he wants the job fulltime. Although a probable 2-0 test-series defeat will not help his cause, he appears to fancy his chances."I have spoken to the right people, so hopefully it will be resolved very soon," Law said. AP