Breaks in play stopped batsmen from finding rhythm - Bangar

In the other camp, Sri Lanka bowling coach Ratnayake praised Lakmal, saying his spell was among the best he has seen "in a long time", but was also wary that batting would be equally difficult for his team on this surface

Suranga Lakmal celebrates after dismissing KL Rahul, India v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, 1st day, Kolkata, November 16, 2017

Suranga Lakmal celebrates after dismissing KL Rahul  •  BCCI

Rumesh Ratnayake, Sri Lanka's bowling coach, has termed Suranga Lakmal's spell of 6-6-0-3 as among the best he has seen "in a long time". Lakmal's relentless probing on a green Eden Gardens pitch and under overcast skies left India struggling at 17 for 3 at the end of a first day during which only 11.5 overs were bowled.
"I would say it is one of the finest I have seen in a long time," Ratnayake said. "I am not sure if it's the best spell I have seen but one of the finest I have seen for a long, long time. Saying that, the wicket was very receptive, it was very helpful, and it's going to be a big challenge [for Sri Lanka's batsmen later on].
"We were sort of expecting, looking at the wicket, we knew that it was going to seam. By saying that, the job isn't finished. It's only started, it's just started."
Ratnayake admitted it was a good toss for Sri Lanka to have won, but he expected conditions to remain helpful to fast bowlers for a while longer.
"Yeah, certainly a good toss to win, but I personally feel that it may last about one-and-a-half days or so, maybe more. We can't play God here and say it will last for two-three days but I would say it will last at least for two days. But since it's a new wicket, I believe it might be an extra day or two because there is a certain amount of grass. The surface is grassy."
Before they went out to bowl, Ratnayake said he stressed that the fast bowlers pitch the ball up.
"As much as we push the batsmen back, it is very important that we keep it up because, as you may have seen, the movement or the vulnerability was more as the bowler pitched it up and also within the wicket. Our tactics on a normal wicket would be different, our tactics in this game are different. So it's just keeping the ball up."
It was also important for the fast bowlers to make the batsmen play as much as possible; while Lakmal did this, his new-ball partner Lahiru Gamage struggled with his line, bowling too far outside off stump, though Ratnayake suggested he got better as his spell wore on.
"Did you see the difference after the [stoppage due to bad light]?," he said. "It was a matter of him getting his rhythm right and more importantly the timing also right.
"So he was not having that right and when you get your rhythm and timing right, you get the place where you want to hit it in a much easier way for the body. As much as you need timing in batting, you need timing in bowling as well. If you rush through the delivery, the chances of you hitting the right place is not as great as when your timing is right."
India's batting coach Sanjay Bangar, meanwhile, said his batsmen were tested not just by the conditions but also by the fact that there were so many interruptions in play. With the floodlights turned on right through, he felt it resembled a day-night Test.
"The conditions were pretty tough for batting, and what didn't really help us was that we didn't get an extended passage of play, wherein you had 15-20 overs bowled at a batsman in a particular fashion," Bangar said. "So that didn't allow the batsmen to get into any sort of a rhythm.
"It didn't seem to be a day Test match. It was more like a day-night Test match and at times when you play in such circumstances, playing with the red ball becomes pretty tough because it's more difficult to pick the red ball."
Given how much help there was for the quicks, there was a case for India to pick three fast bowlers and just the one spinner to enable them to play an extra batsman. India, however, picked three fast bowlers and two spinners.
"This team management has believed in going in with five batsmen and the quality of the allrounders that we have - Ashwin, Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and also Wriddhiman Saha - we think that that gives a lot of depth in the lower order and it gives us a lot of bowling options as well to pick up 20 wickets in a Test match. That has really worked well for us," Bangar said. "If you look at the last two-and-a-half seasons, we've won nearly 20 Test matches. So that's mainly due to the team composition that we have opted to play."
The spinners, Bangar felt, would come into the game as it progressed, particularly if the pitch dried out and the dents caused by the ball's impact on a damp surface hardened.
"I think we've got all bases covered," he said. "As the game progresses into the fourth and fifth days, you'll also find that because of the dampness, there would be dents on the wickets. As the game progresses, there will be variable bounce which might come into play. So both the spinners are really vital to us and we've got all bases covered - we've got the swing and seam and the pace we require. We've got a variety of bowlers and we've got all bases covered."
Before that, however, India's batsmen will need to put up some sort of total on the board.
"Yes, you'll have to grind out quite a bit because there are going to be a lot of balls which are going to beat the outside edge as well as the inside edge of the bat," Bangar said. "We need to respect the conditions as a batsman and think about the next ball. If you start thinking or worrying about the amount of times you're getting beaten, it plays on your mind.
"The best mindset is to forget the previous ball and accept that you're going to get beaten on a number of occasions. Probably, on such a wicket, you might not play really, really beautiful shots, but you'll have to grind it out and take runs. So most of the runs might not be beautiful or elegant but those are equally important runs."

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo