Colombo: Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews has blamed his batsmen for the heavy defeat in the second cricket Test versus India here, saying they lost the game with their first innings batting.
The visitors won by 278 runs and levelled the series 1-1.
"We didn't bat for time. To be honest the wicket was pretty demanding and it was the fourth innings. Ashwin was bowling brilliantly. He was putting a lot of pressure from one end and from the other end the rest of the bowlers put a lot of pressure on us.
"We just couldn't hang on. It wasn't a realistic target to be achieved on the final day of a Test match. But it's just that we wanted to approach it in a positive way," said Mathews after the day's play had ended early.
The match had turned in India's favour in the first innings itself after they took an 87-run lead. And after squandering their position of advantage in the first Test at Galle, the visitors made it count this time and pressed for victory.
"We didn't play our best cricket. We lost the Test with our first innings batting. I thought the wicket was very good to bat on. We just didn't get close to their target, and gave them a healthy lead for them to capitalise on in the second innings.
"They played very positively. Once they got that 400-run mark, it was quite difficult for us to win the match. But we still had to approach it in a positive way but unfortunately, the batsmen didn't play well in the second innings either," said the skipper.
"We knew that the Indians are going to come back really hard. We expected that and they did the same too. They played really good cricket. They played better than us. First innings was very crucial on this wicket. It was a good wicket to be honest. It was turning a little bit but there were no demons. We didn't play well and they are the deserving winners," he added.
R Ashwin finished as the standout spinner in the match, taking his second five-wicket haul, and 17 wickets in the series so far. He also dismissed Kumar Sangakkara four times out of four as the left-handed batsman retired with a loss in his last match.
"Ashwin is just getting the basics right. He is turning the ball and creating a lot of pressure. He bowls pretty accurate and has been a tremendous bowler for India over the past so many years and continuing to be so. We need to find out a way to counter-attack him. We have to be positive. We can't just hang around. He will bowl the odd good ball anyway in an over. We just have to look to be positive and score runs against him," the Lankan captain said.
Mathews regretted that Kumar Sangakkara's farewell game in international cricket ended in disappointment, courtesy their failure with the bat.
"In both innings our middle order failed to fire. We managed only a few runs and there were collapses. I do admit that there is a problem with the middle order and I regret that we couldn't give Kumar a winning farewell. He's been an amazing servant of the game. It really pains me that we couldn't give him a good farewell, but I promise him that we will play next game well and win the series against India," Mathews said.
With Sangakkara gone now, Mathews becomes the most important batsman in their line-up. But the rest will have to pull through as well if there is any chance of Lanka managing to save this series that has been dominated by India so far, barring three sessions in Galle.
"We will have to play it by the ear. Because Dinesh Chandimal is also keeping and it's not an easy job to bat in the top four and wicket keep for long. We will take that call but we have our options open," said Mathews.
"Indians played really good cricket for the first three-and-a-half days and they were on top. But we just managed to come back within three sessions and managed to win the game in Galle. I know that they have been playing really good cricket. We have not been playing our best cricket so far. Hopefully we can in the third and final Test," he signed off.