Prasanna Jayawardene’s hundred left Sri Lanka well-placed against England on the second day of the first Test in Cardiff.
The wicketkeeper’s 112 was the cornerstone of Sri Lanka’s first innings 400, a total that appeared some way off when he came in at 159-4.
Sri Lanka then collected a prize scalp shortly before the close when England captain Andrew Strauss edged Suranga Lakmal, who might not have been playing but for injuries to first-choice seamers Dilhara Fernando and Nuwan Pradeep, to Mahela Jayawardene at second slip for 20.
At stumps, England were 47-1 – a deficit of 353.
Ashes hero Alastair Cook was 24 not out and nightwatchman James Anderson unbeaten on one in England’s first Test since completing a 3-1 series win in Australia in January.
Sri Lanka were faltering when Prasanna Jayawardene took guard but the 31-year-old, whose Test career has been revived by the decision of former captain Kumar Sangakkara to give up the gloves, was undaunted.
He gave just one chance before reaching his century when, on 89, he edged Graeme Swann to first slip where Strauss failed to hold the catch in the position previously occupied by the now retired Paul Collingwood when the off-spinner was bowling.
Prasanna Jayawardene played a stroke worthy of Mahela Jayawardene, when he cover-drove Swann for four to reach 96.
Then a legside three off fast bowler Chris Tremlett took him to a third Test hundred, and first against England, off 147 balls with a dozen boundaries.
For England it was largely a day of attrition in the field.
Stuart Broad did, though, become the second-youngest England bowler to pick up 100 Test match wickets, although the Nottinghamshire seamer insisted the team effort is more important.
He said: “It was a tough day, I thought Sri Lanka played very well and showed good discipline, but I thought we stuck at our guns really well to get them out for 400.
“We tested the batsmen at times and that is all we can do. It is now up to us to bat until Sunday night and build a good score. It is always nice to pick up a couple of personal milestones but it is more important to bowl a side out.”