England made Sri Lanka collapse to 29 for three at tea on the first day of the rain-marred third Test at the Rose Bowl here on Thursday.
James Anderson marked his comeback to England duty by taking two wickets, while Chris Tremlett struck on the ground where he made his name with southern county Hampshire.
Mahela Jayawardene was three not out and Thilan Samaraweera nought not out in the first Test ever played at the ground.
In the five overs possible between lunch and tea, England took two wickets for six runs.
After England captain Andrew Strauss won the toss and fielded, Anderson struck in the 13th over. Test debutant Lahiru Thirimanne, in for injured Sri Lanka skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan, who had his thumb broken by Tremlett while making 193 at Lord's, edged a drive through to Strauss at first slip and fell for 10.
Sangakkara, the third left-hander in Sri Lanka's top three, had to be persuaded to lead the side in Dilshan's absence after resigning the captaincy following the team's World Cup final defeat by India in Mumbai in April.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 29/3 (Paranavitana 10, Jayawardene 3*; Anderson 2/12)