England overcame the unfortunate dismissal of captain Michael Vaughan for 87 to stay on course for a big total in the second cricket Test against Sri Lanka here on Sunday.
The tourists, seeking a series-levelling win after losing the first Test in Kandy, took their lunch score of 97-0 to 167-1 at tea on the opening day at the Sinhalese Sports Club.
Alastair Cook, who made zero and four in Kandy, hit form with an unbeaten 54. Ian Bell was the other batsman at the crease on 15.
The pair have so far added 34 for the second wicket on a grassless pitch that was affording no help to the bowlers.
Vaughan and Cook put on 133 for the first wicket, England's first opening century stand since the Headingley Test against Pakistan in 2006 - 15 Tests ago - by Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Strauss.
Vaughan, timing the ball superbly and looking set for his 18th century, fell against the run of play to give Sri Lanka a lucky break midway through the afternoon session.
The batsman flicked Muttiah Muralitharan hard but the ball lodged between the knees of short-leg fielder Jehan Mubarak, who fell backwards by the impact but ensured the ball did not hit the ground.
Vaughan, who had cut the previous delivery for his 12th boundary, stood in disbelief at the crease for a brief while before walking off.
Off-spinner Muralitharan, who overtook Australian Shane Warne as Test cricket's leading wicket-taker during the Kandy match, claimed 1-43 from 12 overs.
Some 3,000 fans, most of them travelling England supporters, watched the tourists get off to a flying start.
Vaughan began by steering Lasith Malinga to the third-man fence in the second over and then off-drove Chaminda Vaas for his second boundary.
Cook's first positive shot came almost an hour after the start when he hit Dilhara Fernando to the cover fence but, on eight, was lucky to see Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene floor a sharp chance in the slips.
Vaughan reached his 15th Test half-century with the second of his three boundaries in one Fernando over, racing to 54 in England's total of 64-0.
England had made two changes from the Kandy Test, leaving out injured fast bowler Matthew Hoggard and fellow seamer James Anderson.
Steve Harmison, who missed the first Test due to back spasms, returned to the side and paceman Stuart Broad made his Test debut.
Sri Lanka recalled 22-year-old opener Upul Tharanga in place of Sanath Jayasuriya, who announced his retirement from Test cricket after the Kandy match.