India’s tail batted defiantly before Sri Lanka bowled the hosts out for 172 in the first innings of the opening test on Saturday.
Resuming day three on 74-5, the bottom half of the Indian order contributed 98 valuable runs in the morning session to lend some respectability to their total on a green track at the Eden Gardens.
Overnight batsman Cheteshwar Pujara was key to India’s hopes of putting up a decent total after Sri Lanka had blown away the top half of the lineup by the time they reached 50.
Pujara hit Rangana Herath for his 10th boundary to bring up his 16th test fifty but his formidable defence soon gave in, Lahiru Gamage nipping one back through the bat-pad gap to peg back Pujara’s off-stump with the batsman on 52.
Wriddhiman Saha and Ravindra Jadeja refused to retreat into a defensive shell, though they were not entirely convincing during their innings-high 48-run partnership.
Stumper-batsman Saha, who made 29, was lucky to get a reprieve on 25 when Niroshan Dickwella missed an easy stumping with the batsman way down the crease trying to hit Dilruwan Perera out of the ground.
Jadeja hit Perera for a six over long-on but the off-spinner ended the partnership by removing both in the same over.
Perera trapped Jadeja leg-before for 22 and three balls later had Saha caught by Angelo Mathews in the slip.
Jadeja was originally given not-out before Sri Lanka challenged the decision and got it overturned, while Saha’s bid to change the original verdict failed.
Suranga Lakmal dismissed Bhuvneshwar Kumar for 13 to claim his fourth wicket. The paceman proved difficult to score off, bowling 19 tidy overs including 12 maidens.
Mohammad Shami made a breezy 24 down the order but India still fell short of the 175-mark.