England, chasing 301 to win, made a stuttering start at Lord’s as both Cook and Ian Bell were dismissed before the end of the fourth over, but impressive displays from Jos Buttler, Ravi Bopara, Gary Ballance and Joe Root got the hosts close.
Buttler’s 121 off 74 deliveries put the hosts on the brink of a stunning victory, but the bowling of Lasith Malinga ensured Sri Lanka’s narrow victory to level the scores at 2-2.
The defeat means England must go to Edgbaston on Tuesday and win if they are to take the five-match series, and Cook believes they can go into the game confident after a rousing finish on Saturday.
“It was looking pretty bleak before those two (Buttler and Bopara) got going,” he said. “When you’re chasing 300 at Lord’s, it’s hard to defend, we couldn’t quite get going but Jos showed what a special player he is.
“When you lose wickets in the first couple of overs you have to do some rebuilding, we know we have to play those first 30 overs better if we’re going to chase down 300.
“I can’t fault the commitment of the lads and we’ll have a one-off game now to decide the series.
“The pitch didn’t do as much as we thought it might but we did well to keep them to 300.
“We’re disappointed to be on the losing side but we’ll go to Edgbaston confident.”
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