Hobart, Feb 29: "It's tough to swallow such a loss", is how a dejected Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene put it after India pulled off a sensational victory over his team on Tuesday to stay in the hunt for a final's berth in the tri-series.
"Virat batted brilliantly I think. You have to give him a lot of credit. The way he batted in the middle period, pretty much scoring a boundary every over. We probably didn't bowl that well, we were a bit shoddy with the fielding as well. It's tough to swallow but it's a good game of cricket and well deserved by the Indians," said Jayawardene after the match.
"We knew they had their license to go out and play their shots today. For the first 10 overs, we didn't hit our areas consistently. We gave away a few too many and they had the momentum after that", he said.
Jayawardene defended his decision to delay the bowling powerplay which he took only in the 28th over.
"We would have batted first. We felt with runs on the board, it was always going to be tough. And 320 couldn't have asked for anything better than that.
"As for bowling powerplay, that was the decision taken because I wanted to bowl my spinner. But they were going at nine an over and I couldn't just take the powerplay then. Just wanted to delay it for a few overs, thought when the ball gets older, the guys will get a bit more grip and it would be tougher for them to play.
"I was thinking when we get a wicket, we would get the powerplay in but it didn't happen. Tactically I was trying to make sure we push them back with the field back and we could come back into the game."
The Sri Lanka captain added that he wanted to delay taking the powerplay by five overs or so.
"I wanted to take the powerplay around the 20th or 22nd over, that was my idea. I wanted to just delay it by five overs. But they had the momentum. They knew they could take risk and they took. And it paid off for them," he said.
"Losing (Farveez) Maharoof at that particular time was tough as well. He was bowling particularly well. But no excuses. India batted really well," Jayawardene said.
Jayawardene surprised many by using left-arm spinner Rangana Herath for only four overs.
"Rangana was okay, that's why we used him in that period. Still, they were scoring 8-9 runs an over. And he could only bowl from one end. Probably I could have taken a chance and gambled and used him during powerplays. But I backed my main bowler Lasith (Malinga) and it didn't work today," he said.
The Sri Lanka skipper also came under fire for keeping Malinga off a bit too long before giving him a second spell.
"In 40 overs, I had six of him left. Once the ball gets a little older, that's when he gets more effective. A bit more reverse and makes it harder. That's the thing. I could have used Malinga up front and finished him off and I didn't have bowlers. There are a lots of ifs and buts. So it's easy to say I could have done this or that," he explained.
Jayawardene said it was around the 30-over stage that he realised that the Indians could run away with the game.
"After the 25th or 30th over, around that time I knew that the rate was pretty good. So they could get it. At around halfway point, 120-130 runs still to get, we were okay. But what we didn't do was take wickets to try and control the game today. It's just one of those days. Just didn't go our way."
Jayawardena lavished praised on Kohli, saying his knock was right up there with a few of the best he has seen in his career.
"I have come across quite a few good knocks in my time from opposition batsmen. Definitely, it's there and thereabouts. It's just the way he handled himself. He took risks and controlled the innings. He batted beautifully. Can't take anything away from that," he said.
Despite the big loss, Jayawardene defended his bowlers.
"There are not a lot of lessons. When you score 320 and chase it down, I don't think there were lessons learnt. Bowlers will be a bit disappointed for the first time in the entire tournament. First time they went away. Wicket was fantastic, there wasn't much in it. Both sides struggled with the bowling," he said.
"We just have to keep our heads high. We need to show a bit of character on Friday and come back strongly.
"We have put ourselves in a situation where it's in our control. So if we are hungry enough to play in the finals, we should beat Australia. Simple as that. So we will try and do that.
"It's a crunch game but it's in our control. We are not waiting for someone else to do us favours. Like I said, we are still playing good cricket. We haven't been bowled out for lesser runs. We have maintained certain standards," he said.
Jayawardene also admitted that it wasn't the first time that he had felt helpless on the field.
"I have had quite a bit of those in my career. So it's not the first time. Especially when Gilly (Adam Gilchrist) went berserk in Barbados not so long ago in a big final for us. That happens. When you get players in that zone, it's tough to stop them. And everything he hits it, either lands in gaps or clears the gap," said Jayawardene.
Sri Lanka have beaten Australia in two straight matches and Jayawardene was confident his side could do it again.
"We are pretty confident. I think we have beaten them twice. But it's not going to be easy. We know that," he said.