Sri Lanka captain Tillakaratne Dilshan helped deny England a breakthrough as the tourists tried to put their series-opening batting collapse behind them at Lord’s.
Sri Lanka were 101 without loss in reply to England’s first innings 486, a deficit of 385, at tea on the second day of the second Test here on Saturday.
Dilshan was 54 not out and fellow opener Tharanga Paranavitana 32 not out.
It was all a far cry from Monday’s collapse in Cardiff where Sri Lanka were dismissed for just 82 as England won the first Test by an innings and 14 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
England missed a chance to separate the openers when, with the score on 37, left-hander Paranavitana, on 13, edged fast bowler Steven Finn, recalled in place of the injured James Anderson, to Alastair Cook at third slip.
But Cook, fielding in the spot vacated by the retired Paul Collingwood, failed to hold the chance despite getting both hands to the ball.
Dilshan, meanwhile, played his natural free-scoring game, hooking Chris Tremlett, one of England’s trio of 6ft 5in plus seamers, for six on his way to a 58-ball fifty as Paranavitana dropped anchor.
Earlier, England were bowled out for 486 on the stroke of lunch, with wicketkeeper Matt Prior making 126 — his fourth Test hundred. It was his second Test century at Lord’s, following his 126 not out against the West Indies on his Test debut in 2007
Prior, together with Stuart Broad, who made an elegant 54, took a toll of Sri Lanka’s attack during a a seventh-wicket stand of 108 in 91 balls.
England, who had slumped to 22 for three after losing the toss Friday, resumed on 342 for six after Cook (96) and Eoin Morgan (79) had both fallen short of a hundred. Prior was 73 not out overnight and Broad, offering good support, 17 not out.
Brief scores: England 1st innings 486 (M Prior 136, Welegedera 4/122); Sri Lanka (Tea) 101/0 (N Paranavitana 32, T Dilshan 54).