Galle: Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene and his deputy Kumar Sangakkara revived the hosts after England's double strikes in the third and final Test here on Tuesday.
The pair put on 88 for the unbroken third wicket as Sri Lanka, sent in to bat on a moisture-laden wicket, recovered from 44-2 to post 132-2 by tea on the opening day at the Galle International Stadium.
Jayawardene followed his 195 in the drawn second Test in Colombo with an unbeaten 45 studded with six boundaries.
Left-handed Sangakkara, showing the consistency that made him the first batsman to record 150-plus scores in four consecutive Tests, was 46 not out at the break.
Sangakkara was, however, lucky to be still at the crease, having survived a loud appeal for a catch at the wicket off Matthew Hoggard before lunch when he was on 21.
Television replays revealed a thin edge off the bat which Australian umpire Daryl Harper did not notice.
The match, the first at the stadium after it was destroyed by the Asian tsunami in December 2004, started two hours late at 12 noon (0630 GMT) due to a wet outfield caused by overnight rain.
Some 7,000 fans, half of them travelling England supporters, cheered loudly when match officials decided to hold play for 90 minutes before lunch.
They will also extend play by an hour in the evening to make up for lost time.
The tourists, needing a win to draw the series, removed openers Michael Vandort and Upul Tharanga in the shortened pre-lunch session.
Hoggard, returning for England after missing the second Test due to a back injury, was lucky to claim Vandort leg-before for 18 in the 11th over.
Replays of umpire Asad Rauf's decision showed the ball may have gone over the stumps.
Tharanga made 16 when Rauf ruled him leg-before off Steve Harmison, putting Sri Lanka on 44-2.
England left out off-spinner Graeme Swann from the 12 announced on Monday and went in with just one specialist slow bowler in Monty Panesar.
Sri Lanka, who won the first Test in Kandy by 88 runs, awarded a Test cap to 26-year-old fast bowler Chanaka Welegedara and recalled all-rounder Tillekeratne Dilshan.
Brief Scores (at tea, D-1):
Sri Lanka 132/4 (Sangakkara 46*, Jayawardene 45*; Harmison 1 for 24, Sidebottom 1 for 30) Vs England.