Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook have set a solid foundation to England's first innings as the openers batted through to the tea interval on 83 for no loss in reply to Sri Lanka's 275 on the second day of the second test on Wednesday.
At the break, Strauss was unbeaten on 42, having hit three fours, while Cook was not out on 40, also with three fours.
It was England's best opening partnership of the series, following stands of nought and 31 in the first test defeat at Galle, with the openers content to play the waiting game and play scoring shots off loose deliveries.
The afternoon session made for rather tedious viewing as only 72 runs were added in 32 overs, but England appear determined to post a useful first innings total on a slow pitch.
Cook, on 20, offered Sri Lanka their only chance when he was dropped at short leg by Lahiru Thirimanne.
Earlier, off-spinner Graeme Swann took three wickets for four runs in just over six overs to clean up the Sri Lankan tail shortly before lunch.
Swann finished with figures of four for 75 as Sri Lanka were bowled out for a below par score after winning the toss and electing to bat.
Sri Lanka, who resumed on 238-6, added just 37 runs to their overnight total for the loss of their last four wickets against some tight bowling by the visiting attack.
Suraj Randiv (12) became Swann's first victim of the day when he threw away his wicket attempting to take the fight to the spinner soon after he came on, but only succeeded in holing out to a leaping Kevin Pietersen at long-on.
Swann then removed Angelo Mathews for 57 when the Sri Lankan vice captain checked an on-drive which offered England skipper Strauss a routine catch at short mid-wicket.
Tim Bresnan got in on the act when he picked up the wicket of Rangana Herath (2) as the batsman lost patience following a series of blocks and swished at a delivery from outside off stump that caught a faint edge to wicket-keeper Matt Prior.
Swann finished off the Sri Lankan innings by bowling Suranga Lakmal for a duck with a perfect off-break that beat the number 11's defensive prod and zipped between his bat and pad. Dhammika Prasad remained not out on 12.
James Anderson finished with 3-62, Bresnan 2-47 and Steven Finn 1-51.
Sri Lanka lead the two-test series 1-0.