Sri Lanka recovered to 82-3 against England at lunch on day one of their series-deciding second cricket Test after James Anderson took three quick wickets.
Fast bowler Anderson removed Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Lahiru Thirimanne to reduce Sri Lanka to 30-3 after captain Mahela Jayawardene won the toss in Colombo. Jayawardene (40 not out) combined for a 52-run unbeaten partnership with Thilan Samaraweera (20) to rally his team.
England, which must win at the P. Sara Oval to retain the No. 1 Test ranking, made two changes to the team that lost the opening Test in Galle by 75 runs as Steve Finn and Tim Bresnan came in for Stuart Broad and Monty Panesar. South Africa would take the top spot should England fail to win.
Sri Lanka, seeking its first Test series victory since August 2009, also made two changes. Angelo Mathews returned from injury to replace Dinesh Chandimal and Dhammika Prasad took over from injured seamer Chanaka Welegedara.
Last week’s defeat was England’s fourth straight in elite Tests following a 3-0 sweep of losses against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates. It last won a Test series on the road against Asian teams other then bottom-ranked Bangladesh in 2001, when it won 2-1 in Sri Lanka.