Shikhar Dhawan (94) and Virat Kohli (48) shared a 97-run stand for the second wicket before a middle-order collapse pushed India back from a promising 175 for two in 35 overs to 215 for seven in the 44th over. The strong batting line-up minus the injured Mahendra Singh Dhoni were found wanting against the Sri Lankan spinners Ajantha Mendis (4/60) and Sachithra Senanayake (3/41).
Indians, who have preferred chasing in the recent past, lost the toss and were asked to bat on a low and slow wicket.
They started slowly, reaching 37 for one in 10 overs before Dhawan and stand-in captain Kohli gradually upped the run rate.
Kohli, after hitting four sixes and a six, was foxed by Mendis’ carrom ball which turned away to flick the off-stump.
Ajinkya Rahane (22) joined Dhawan in the middle and just when the pair looked set for a substantial partnership, the Mumbai batsman was caught at short-third man off Senanayake, making it 175 for three.
Dhawan played well in his 114-ball knock until Mendis bowled him with another faster one. It was the southpaw’s second dismissal in the 90s in three ODIs.
The wickets kept on falling regularly as Mendis and Senanayake got on top of the Indian batsmen.
Stuart Binny failed to score in his first international innings while Dinesh Karthik (4) was out to a loose shot.
Getting past 250 now looked tough but for the effort of Ravindra Jadeja (22 not out) and Mohammed Shami (14 not out), who hammered two huge sixes off Mendis in the penultimate over.