GALLE, Sri Lanka (Reuters) – Ben Foakes made his debut debut in a century and also impressed with his gloves when England shot Sri Lanka out for 203 for 203 before clocking up 177 runs on the second day of the opening test.
The tourists were without stump loss on Wednesday, 38, after their bowlers, led by off-spinner Moeen Ali, had given them a convenient 139-lead first at the Galle International Stadium.
Keaton Jennings was still with him on the 26th and his debutant Rory Burns. He hoped to make amends, having made only nine in the first innings.
All eyes were on Foakes at the beginning of the game, when he started again, needing 13 runs for a century in his first Test innings with England at 321-8.
The 25-year-old hit the first ball of the day after a limit, but after Jack Leach's death from becoming Dilruwan Perera's fifth victim, his partner threatened him.
However, number 11 batsman James Anderson survived long enough for Foakes to reach three points before turning to pacemaker Suranga Lakmal.
Foakes scored 10 points in his glittering 107-mark and is the second English wicketkeeper after Matt Prior, who scored a century in his test debut.
The Anderson-Foakes pairing was soon back in tandem, combining Dimuth Karunaratne, who was caught behind the second ball of the Sri Lankan innings.
When the hosts staggered to 40: 4, former captain Angelo Mathews arrested the slide in a 75-run stand with skipper Dinesh Chandimal, who had suffered a groin injury of 33.
Foakes made a smart stumble to dismiss Chandimal from an Adil Rashid broken leg and stayed in the thick of it with a few claws.
Mathews pushed his patient 52 to three limits, silenced questions about his fitness and ran between the gates, but fell to Moeen after the tea break from the first ball.
England's tripartite spin attack seized eight of the ten Sri Lankan ports, with Moeen claiming 4-66 when Sri Lanka gave in shortly after crossing the 200 mark.
The collapse of Sri Lanka's first order reflected England's poor start in the first innings, but lacked a middle-order Foakes-style rescue.
(Report by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi, edited by Nick Mulvenney and David Goodman)