Experienced Kumar Sangakkara showed the way with a breathtaking 84-ball 103 as Sri Lanka recovered from a middle-order batting collapse to pull off a thrilling two-wicket victory.
Chasing 265 for win after opting to bowl first, the islanders rode on the 36-year-old's masterclass to complete the task with four balls to spare at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium.
"Toss was crucial in these sort of places. It's just a matter of luck at the toss. If they were bowling and they had three spinners later on I don't think they would have had the same chances. I would rather strengthen my batting. It did not pay off for us. We need to go back to drawing table and see what we can do from here," Kohli said at the post-match presser.
India were cruising at one stage but wickets of Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan cost them dear as the inexperience middle-order, in the absence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, failed to deliver.
"We could have played smarter cricket on the day. But if you see some decisions first two overs close lbws, plus we dropped a few chances. It's part of cricket. But we should have taken our chances. Overall, we did not play smart cricket the way we did against Bangladesh. In batting also we could have made 20-25 runs more."
Kohli defended his decision to play Stuart Binny even as as Sri Lankan's inclusion of Ajantha Mendis (4/60) worked for them.
"The plan was to play that extra batsman with Stuart Binny and combine him with Rohit and Rayudu for the 10 overs. But when you have dew in the end, you don't have much that regular fast bowlers can do. The last 10 overs there was a lot of dew." "I think it was a commendable effort by bowlers to take the game to the last over with Sangakkara set in the middle. When you collapse in your batting, you miss that extra batsman as well," Kohli said.
"They need to learn from mistakes. I know they are very capable cricketers that's why they are playing for India. Sometimes in international cricket you tend to bog down. The span of making one mistake and a next one should be long enough to become that potentially big player."
Asked about the turning points, he said: "The wickets of Shikhar, Rahane and Karthik at first...we lost them in quick succession, something that hurt our batting. We were in position to get 300 but lost these three quick wickets.
"While in fielding we could have had those three chances even in the last over also... we never know. We just need to be smarter and professional with our fielding as well."
Since his downfall in South Africa, where he was troubled by Dale Steyn, Rohit Sharma did not look the same player at the top, but Kohli backed the Indian opener and said he deserved all the support.
"Rohit is very comfortable opening his innings. He's done well for us to have faith in him. He has done really well for us since he's opened for us. It's not certain that an individual performs in every series. He's been brilliant in the last one year. We need to have faith in him.
"He's done really well and stepped up when we did not have any opening options. He's filled in that spot beautifully. He deserves all the faith."