Mahela Jayawardene believed 175 would have been a great score to defend on the pitch © AFP

It could very well have been Sri Lanka's day had it not been for Mahendra Singh Dhoni and S Badrinath. At the post-match press conference, Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lankan captain, said their partnership took the game away and helped India square the series 1-1.

"When you are defending 142 you try to stop runs and pick up wickets. We tried different things and picked up wickets when we needed them," Jayawardene said. "We were just one wicket away from making inroads into their tail but the partnership between Dhoni and Badrinath took the game away from us.

"The 60 runs they put together was the difference, they batted really well. In a situation like that you can't do too many things. You have to stop the runs and attack as well, but it didn't work for us today."

He said 175 would have been a great score to defend. "That was our target, anything above would have been a great score," he said. "We had to make sure we didn't lose too many wickets upfront, keep wickets in hand and drag the game as much as possible. They bowled in very good areas and bowled really well in the beginning. They had picked four quick bowlers and we knew we had to get through the initial period but unfortunately we couldn't do that.

Jayawardene said the batsmen had let his team down, after their bowlers had given them the series lead in the first ODI. "At the start of the series I said batting was the most important thing for us. We've got to put runs on the board," he said. "We have good bowlers who can create opportunities, but to do that we need to be consistent with the bat. On a wicket like this you have to really struggle for your runs and work hard. But we didn't dig in deep and fight really hard."

He did not pin the blame on the pitch in Dambulla. "The wickets are very fresh here because you don't play that much cricket throughout the year," he said. "Whenever we play an international game the pitches always have something in it for the bowlers. You can't complain. It's a good challenge for the cricketers. There's no point playing on really flat tracks and scoring 300 runs. We need to play on these kinds of wickets. It's just that it does a little bit with the new ball and then settles in. Once you get in it's a very good wicket to bat on. The ball comes nicely onto the bat and it's got a bit of bounce."

Jayawardene said Chaminda Vaas, who was rested for this game because of a hamstring injury, would be assessed before the third ODI in Colombo on Sunday. "After the first game he had a tight hamstring so we gave him a day off on Tuesday. We wanted to have a fitness test today morning but he still had the stiffness so we didn't risk playing him in back-to-back games. We have the Champions Trophy coming up and we didn't want him to pick up a serious injury."