Mahela Jayawardene has defended the Sri Lanka team after England's captain, Alastair Cook, suggested "a line had been crossed" in the deciding ODI of the series between England and Sri Lanka.

Jayawardene insisted that Sri Lanka were left with little option but to run out Jos Buttler in the 44th over after the batsman, at the non-striker's end, repeatedly backed-up too far. While it was the spinner Sachithra Senanayake who removed the bails midway through his bowling action, the umpires offered Sri Lanka captain, Angelo Mathews, the opportunity to withdraw the appeal before they gave Buttler out. It was the first instance of 'Mankading' in international cricket since 1992.

Alastair Cook, the England captain, denounced the incident as "a pretty poor act" and suggested he would not have behaved in the same manner.

"I thought it was disappointing," Cook said. "There's a line and that line was crossed here. I've never seen it before in the game and I was pretty disappointed by it. As captain of your country, there are certain ways you want your team to operate. And obviously he is fine with it. He has said he will do it again.

"You don't know what you would do if you were put in that situation, in the heat of the moment, until you are. I'd like to think I wouldn't do it, but I suppose you just don't know.

"I haven't been in the situation, as captain of England, where I have had to make a 'spirit of cricket' call. Paul Collingwood had one a few years ago and admitted afterwards that, in the heat of the moment, he probably made a mistake.

"If he was properly trying to steal a single, I could possibly understand it. But he was half a yard out of his crease. It's pretty disappointing."

But Jayawardene, defending his captain and his team, revealed that Sri Lanka had warned Buttler twice before the incident and felt he had been claiming an unfair advantage by leaving his ground early.

"We gave him a fair chance," Jayawardene said. "Twice. Before the first warning, we told the umpires that he was taking too much of a lead and then he was warned again. We had to do that, because they kept doing it.

"We analysed our game after Lord's. They took 22 twos in the last 12 overs. Ravi Bopara and him ran riot. And most of the time they were taking starts that are not legal by the written laws. We just wanted to make sure we got a fair chance. We warned them and we warned the umpires, but they didn't listen to us, so we had to take the right steps.

"We always try to play in the right spirit, but if the other team is not playing in the right spirit and not going with the law, then unfortunately we had to take the law into our hands. It was the third time. It is fair enough, I think. We all need to play by the rules.

"If the other sides are not going by the rules, then they're not playing by the spirit, so what can you do?"

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo; Alan Gardner is an Assistant Editor