Eoin Morgan rued a match he believes England allowed to get away from them, as old failings returned against Sri Lanka at The Oval last night.

In the first Twenty20 game of England's new regime, at the start of Peter Moores' second tenure as coach, stand-in captain Morgan cited a mediocre display with the ball as his team's main problem on the way to a nine-run defeat in this one-off NatWest international.

Harry Gurney apart, on debut in the sprint format, Morgan concluded that England failed to restrict Sri Lanka's batsmen as well as they might.

Then having reprieved the dangerous Thisara Perera on the way to a top-score of 49 from just 20 balls, when Hampshire's Michael Carberry dropped the left-hander - with Morgan himself still in his eyeline as both initially called for the catch - England fell just short of a target of 183 for seven, despite another fine hand from opener Alex Hales (66).

Lasith Malinga (three for 28) had much to do with that.

But Morgan insists nonetheless England's bowling remains the biggest area of concern - albeit with an attack refreshed from the one which was unable to contain the best at the ICC World Twenty20 two months ago.

"I think our bowling has let us down for quite a while now," he said.

"We've always managed to either get up there with the chase, and (just) fall short, or set a good score.

"Our batting is quite strong. We bat all the way down.

"But it's just been disappointing today that the skill level wasn't as high."

Morgan was still optimistic, however, until deep into England's run chase - thanks principally to Hales' 33-ball half-century.

"Right up until CJ [Chris Jordan] got out, we were always in with a chance," he said.

"With Ravi (Bopara) targeting the short boundary, it was a case of how well Malinga would bowl ... but again he bowled really well.

"If it'd been an ideal run chase today, we would have left 10 or 15 less [to get off the other bowlers].

"But we didn't get a partnership going with Halesy, and that's what's let us down in the chase."

As for his mix-up with Carberry, Morgan's recollection is of a chance missed not because of any confusion but simply because the skied ball did not stick in his team-mate's hands.

"I went for it initially - shouted for it - and as I got closer, 'Carbs' kept shouting his name.

"So I stood as close as I could to him, to try to get a rebound if he happened to drop it.

"People drop catches all the time, and that one was quite costly."

Morgan is confident England retain a winning mentality, but admits this defeat - against opponents who lost to them alone on the way to being crowned Twenty20 champions in Bangladesh last month - is a hard one to take.

He said "The spirit has always been good.

"But I'm not happy. We've just lost the game, so I'm very disappointed.

"I think it's a game we should probably have won as well."

Malinga, undoubtedly, had a major impact with his brilliant control of the white ball.

"It's not often in Twenty20 cricket that you can get dominated by a bowler so much as Malinga," added Morgan.

"It's more dominated by the bat, obviously.

"But he crops up in everyone's team meeting. He's someone you have to talk about a lot, how you're going to negotiate him - if you have the option of taking him on.

"He's world-class."

Malinga's death bowling was in contrast to that of Chris Jordan, who went for 22 off the penultimate over.

"I definitely enjoy the pressure situations," Malinga said.

"That's why I ask, always, whoever the captain is, give me the ball. I really enjoy that period."

The captaincy is in possession of Malinga himself these days and in that role, he saluted Perera's part in the victory.

"My feeling is Thisara can hit the ball hard," he said. "I think he really did a good job for us.

"I think he has good confidence and is looking forward to all of this tour."