Following Sri Lanka's comprehensive 81-run defeat in the Asia Cup final, the captain Kumar Sangakkara said the target of 269 was achievable but his batsmen lost the advantage when five wickets fell in the first 15 overs. He added that the fielding was not up to the mark especially in an important game like this.
"Unfortunately, our batting style wasn't probably apt for the conditions. Maybe it would have been a bit tighter and we should have been a bit more positive in executing our strokes," Sangakkara said. "If we had got through that difficult period, it may have been a couple of wickets down for 60 on the board in the first 15 overs and it would have been a great run chase.
"We weren't the greatest on the field. We had a lot of missed goals that cost us boundaries, 19 extras really doesn't help the cause especially when you know that you are facing the tougher conditions batting second. We dragged it back in the last 12 overs which cost us only 60 runs but unfortunately, India had a great start, a couple of good partnerships in the middle and 268 was always a very good score on a track like this. We probably gave India about 15-20 runs extra but it wouldn't have mattered in the end because we got only 187."
Although his team could not make it three Asia Cup wins-in-a-row, Sangakkara said the entire squad showed a lot of character and ability.
"What you've got to learn is when you get to a final that's probably where you should play your best cricket, just lift your standards up as high as you can and really go for the blow," he said. "Unfortunately we had three great games where we outplayed the opposition."
Under Sangakkara's leadership, this defeat was third in a tournament final, twice to India (first at the Compaq Cup last year) and once to Pakistan (ICC World T20).
"We always manage to get into the final unbeaten, then not really perform in the final. Unfortunately we haven't been able to lift our standards," Sangakkara said. "You can always talk about the toss at R Premadasa Stadium (Colombo) and at Dambulla but it's always the mentality that really counts in the end.
"The defeatist attitude once the toss goes up and doesn't come our way is not the right way to go playing cricket. You've got to work a lot harder, especially in the first 15 overs."
Commenting on the conditions at Dambulla, Sangakkara said: "We were expecting the ball to move anyway under lights in Dambulla. Both sides played three seamers, unfortunately for us we couldn't deal with the movement. They bowled good lines and lengths that were tight and hitting the right areas more often than we did at the start. We can talk about swing and seam and all of that, but at the end of the day technically we could have dealt with it a lot better. Getting through difficult periods is the key, not everything goes your way every day. When it doesn't that's when the character shows.
However, Sangakkara said the fielding was a big disappointment. "We had three great games fielding wise but in the final again we probably saw a big lax in really stopping the ball and converting half chances," he said. "Especially in a final the margin for error is very little. Conditions or form don't affect fielding, it is the one thing that you are totally in control of."
Click here to listen to excerpts of Sangakkara's press conference