Alastair Cook fell short of a third Test hundred in as many innings but still helped England recover from an early collapse on the first day of the second Test against Sri Lanka at Lord’s.
Cook’s 96 was the centrepiece of England’s 342-6 at stumps after Sri Lanka won the toss.
The left-handed opener had to watch from the other end as England slumped to 22-3.
But stands of 108 with Ian Bell and 71 with Eoin Morgan helped repair the early damage.
Former Ireland batsman Morgan shared 101 with equally free-scoring wicket-keeper Matt Prior for the sixth wicket before falling lbw for 79 to seamer Suranga Lakmal’s first delivery with the new ball.
But Prior, in sunny conditions ideal for batting, was 73 not out off 83 balls with 14 fours at stumps and Stuart Broad unbeaten on 17.
Sri Lanka, 1-0 down in this three-match series after an innings and 14-run loss in the first Test in Cardiff which concluded on Monday, where Cook made 133, enjoyed a sensational start.
They dimissed England captain Andrew Strauss for four before Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen fell for just two apiece.
Sri Lanka’s attack had looked unthreatening in Cardiff, but left-arm seamer Chanaka Welegedara, recalled with the fit-again Dilhara Fernando in place of the dropped duo of spinner Ajantha Mendis and seamer Thisara Perera, had opener Strauss lbw, hitting across the line, and England were 5-1.
Trott came into this match on the back of a first Test 203 but, aiming legside, he was lbw to seamer Lakmal after unsuccessfully reviewing West Indian umpire Billy Doctrove’s decision.
Pietersen, lbw to left-arm spinner Rangana Herath for three in Cardiff, was then out even more cheaply after steering Lakmal to gully, where Sri Lanka captain Tillakaratne Dilshan held a diving catch.
The stylish Bell then rode his luck before edging Welegedara to first slip Tharanga Paranavitana for 52.
Cook, the rock of England’s batting during their Ashes win in Australia with 766 runs at 127.66, including three hundreds, carried on in typically unfussy fashion.
But, after more than four-and-a-half hours at the crease, he tamely miscued a pull off Fernando and top edged to a grateful Farveez Maharoof to end an innings featuring 15 fours.
Left-hander Morgan, unafraid to loft the spin of Herath and Dilshan for six, kept the runs coming and advanced to his second highest Test score, behind the 130 he made against Pakistan at Trent Bridge last year.
Those runs had been made after he came in at 118 for four and yesterday’s knock saw him take guard with England faltering at 130 for four.
But Morgan’s hopes of a second Test century ended when, having originally been given not out by Doctrove, Sri Lanka’s review established Lakmal’s delivery had pitched in line and would have hit the stumps.
Lakmal led Sri Lanka’s attack with three for 79 in 19 overs.