Colombo: Sri Lanka's young batsman Upul Tharanga staked a strong claim for the first Test against England with another powerful display against the tourists here on Sunday.
The left-hander, who made 112 in the tour opener last week, smashed 86 as the Sri Lanka Cricket XI made 298-9 by stumps on the opening day of the three-day match at the Nondescripts Cricket Club here.
Strike bowler Steve Harmison added to England's worries when he left the field with back spasms after sending down the third ball of his 11th over an hour before close.
Harmison, a late entrant to the touring squad after proving his fitness playing first-class cricket in South Africa following hernia problems, finished the day with one for 45.
"Steve does not require scans, but is being treated and we will see how much he recovers overnight," England media manager Andrew Walpole told reporters.
Fast bowler Matthew Hoggard and left-arm spinner Monty Panesar claimed three wickets each.
Tharanga, who did not play on the recent Test tour of Australia, has been included in Sri Lanka's 14 for the first Test starting at the Asgiriya stadium in Kandy on Saturday.
The 22-year-old, with 13 Tests behind him, is one of the contenders for the batting spot left vacant by former captain Marvan Atapattu, who retired after the Australian series.
Openers Tharanga and Mahela Udawatte gave the hosts a good start with a 55-run stand for the first wicket when Hoggard broke through by having Udawatte caught by a diving Michael Vaughan at mid-on.
Test discard Malinda Warnapura, who made his debut in the previous home series against Bangladesh in June, hit four boundaries in 16 when he tickled a ball from seamer Ravi Bopara to the wicket-keeper.
The hosts, who went to lunch at 109-2, suffered a setback seven runs later when captain Tillekeratne Dilshan was dismissed by Harmison for 23.
Dilshan, who was overlooked for the Australian tour and failed to make the squad for the first Test, smashed three fours and a six when he mis-hit a bouncer and was caught at mid-on.
Tharanga was denied a second successive century against the tourists when he edged a drive from James Anderson and was snapped up by Ian Bell in the slips.
Chamara Kapugedera, who made 141 in the previous tour game, managed only 13 when he flicked Hoggard to Bopara in the short mid-wicket region.
Jehan Mubarak (68) and wicket-keeper Kaushal Silva (53) boosted the total by adding 105 for the sixth wicket.
Brief Score (D-1):
SLC XI Ist innings 298 for 9 (Tharanga 86, Jehan Mubarak 68, J Silva 53, Dilshan 23; Panesar 3 for 67, Hoggard 3 for 57, Harmison 1 for 45) Vs England.