"We are a better team than this, we certainly are. It was after a long time that a team scored 600 runs against us. We should have bowled better," said stand-in skipper Rangana Herath post Sri Lanka's 304-run capitulation against India in the first Test in Galle on Saturday
"Obviously when you lose a game, you are disappointed. You can't be satisfied after a defeat. We bowled badly, fielded badly and batted badly in the first innings. We are a better team than that," he said.
"We need to find out how we can do better than this moving forward. But having said that, all credit to India for the way they played. They played outstanding cricket in all three departments. They deserve all the credit," he added.
The strip at Galle International Stadium has traditionally been a spinners' ally - Herath himself came into this game with 93 wickets from 16 previous Tests with his left-arm spin - but it played very true this time, offering very little joy for bowlers from both sides.
"I had said before the game too that this surface would help batsmen a lot," pointed out Herath.
"But I expected the spinners to come into the equation on the fourth or the fifth day. But this wicket didn't have much help for the spinners. Our wickets are different from each other, true enough. We always expect a bit of turn in Galle. But there's no point in blaming anyone after you lose. The plain truth is that we didn't play well, and we are to be blamed."
Admitting that Sri Lanka needed to come out with better plans against Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, the stand-in captain rued bringing Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav, India's pacers, into the equation.
"No player is 100% perfect. We have to see where the batsman has batted before," said Herath.
"In Sri Lanka, we get to bat a lot against spinners. We gave some six wickets to their fast bowlers, and that's something that we need to work on. Ashwin and Jadeja are ranked very highly in Tests and we need to figure out how we can put pressure on them. That's certainly an area that we need to work on."
Sri Lanka was dealt several unkind blows before and during the Test, none more crippling than the loss on the opening morning of Asela Gunaratne with a broken left thumb. Herath was asked if a rule change allowing for a player to be drafted into the playing XI in such situations could be an option.
"If there is an option, we would love to have that," he smiled.
"It was a massive blow for us, losing Asela on the first day. He has been scoring a lot of runs for us in the last few months. He wasn't available to bat or bowl, and that was a huge blow for us. We managed to play without him and hopefully we will bounce back well in the second Test."
There was better news when it came to himself, and to Dinesh Chandimal, the Test skipper who was ruled out of this game due to pneumonia. Herath left the field after injuring his left middle finger while fielding on Friday, and didn't come out to bat on Saturday.
"We had an x-ray yesterday and it didn't show any fracture. But I had a fracture three years ago in the same area and that's the reason there's a bit of swelling and soreness," he revealed. "Hopefully over the next few days, it will get better. As for Chandimal, there's no confirmation, but I expect him to play the next game (in Colombo from August 3)."
Sticking to the theme of positives, Herath lauded the efforts of Nuwan Pradeep, who took 6 for 132 in India's first-innings 600. It was the 30-year-old quick's first five-wicket haul in his 25th Test.
"After a long time, a fast bowler has taken a five-wicket haul in Galle," said Herath.
"There's so much of burden on spinners when we play in Sri Lanka, and Pradeep bowling so well and taking so many wickets will be a huge plus for us moving forward. He was outstanding in this game and his effort was fantastic," he added.