Eighties from Warwickshire pair Varun Chopra and captain Chris Woakes justified England Lions’ decision to bat first in the third and final ‘Test’ with Sri Lanka A.
Chopra’s patient 83 helped the tourists’ recover from 78 for three and Woakes’ unbeaten 84 lifted them to 302 for five at stumps.
Woakes, batting at number six, shared an unbroken stand of 130 with Scott Borthwick, who contributed 59.
Lahiru Gamage was the outstanding bowler on day one of four at Colombo’s Premadasa Stadium, ousting second ‘Test’ centurions Sam Robson and James Taylor en route to figures of 2-37 from 14 overs.
Woakes, whose side lead 1-0 after last week’s draw at Dambulla, called correctly at the toss and announced one change to the Lions line-up with paceman Tymal Mills replacing spinner Ollie Rayner.
Sri Lanka A made three alterations but it was Gamage, one of the retained players, who caused most threat and he snared Robson for nought in the fourth over.
Robson’s opening partner Alex Lees hung around for a while, but he went lbw for 20 to Suraj Randiv.
When Taylor, who struck a double-hundred at Dambulla, was bowled by Gamage for 14 the Lions were in a spot of bother.
However, Jonny Bairstow supported number three Chopra, who normally opens for his county, with a smooth 20 before falling to Dushmantha Chameera.
Chopra and Woakes were one short of a fifty partnership when Jeevan Mendis trapped the former in front during the over after tea.
The skipper and Borthwick then dominated the final session, Woakes regularly attacking while his partner was more watchful.
By the close the hosts were left to rue a couple of dropped chances, including a life for Woakes when wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella could not hold on.