Colombo:India's famed batsmen were made to struggle on a difficult track as Sri Lanka Board XI left the visitors gasping at 196 for eight on a rain-truncated second day of their three-day warm-up match here on Saturday.
Sachin Tendulkar marked his return to competitive cricket with a gutsy 69 and Dinesh Karthik struck an unbeaten 58, but none of the other batsmen could hang around for long on a pitch which gave some assistance to the bowlers.
The Indians, aiming to get as much batting practice ahead of the Test series which gets underway from July 23, were done in first by the weather and then by some tight and incisive bowling by the hosts.
The entire morning session was washed out due to rain and the visitors found the going tough when play actually resumed in gloomy conditions.
The Indians, replying to Board XI's first innings total of 224, were tottering at 80 for five at one stage before Tendulkar and Karthik pulled the team out of the pits with a determined 92-run partnership.
Tendulkar seemed to be in a beligerent mood despite wickets falling at regular intervals and slammed eight boundaries and a six during his 76-ball knock. Karthik, on the other hand, was far more subdued as he tried to rebuild the innings after the early jolts.
Dammika Prasad was the most successful bowler for the home team scalping three wickets for 30 runs, while paceman Dilhara Fernando claimed two wickets.
Resuming at the overnight score of four for one, the Indians lost Rahul Dravid (5) early as he was run out while Sourav Ganguly fell soon after with Prasad accounting for his wicket.
The stylish VVS Laxman did not trouble the scorer at all as he was dismissed for a blob, being hit wicket off Prasad to reduce the Indians to a precarious 80 for five.
Tendulkar, however, seemed to be in no discomfort as he unleashed a flurry of strokes on both sides of the wicket. His two majestic cover drives brought in a huge applause from the crowd which cheered every shot from the magician's bat.
Karthik played the perfect foil as he kept rotating the strike and his useful knock will stand him in good stead when the Test series begins.
"It is good for my confidence at the start of the tour" Karthik told reporters as he walked back to the pavilion after his unbeaten knock which contained six boundries.
The Indians looked somewhat impatient and caved in to the unheralded Sri Lankan bowlers, many of whom are fighting for a place in the Test squad.
The elegant Ganguly started off with a flourish, hammering two fours, but his beligerence was shortlived as he fell prey to Prasad who seemed to trouble most of the batsmen.
Virender Sehwag also showed flashes of brilliance when he scored three boundries in the brief innings of 27 made from 43 balls. The marauder departed when he looked like settling for a big score.
Day 2, India: 196 for eight in 49 overs.
Day 1, Sri Lanka Board XI: 224 in 71.5 overs (T. Kandamby 84, C. Silva 68, J. Mubarak 25) India: 4 for one in 0.4 overs.