ENGLAND’S first innings was left in disarray after the top order were shot out cheaply against a Sri Lanka Cricket Board President’s XI.
Captain Michael Vaughan, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen all succumbed to the new ball after the President’s XI declared on their overnight 298-9.
And Alastair Cook, who shored things up for three-quarters of the morning session, fell to the innings’ first over of spin as the tourists struggled to 61-4 by lunch.
Left-arm duo Sujeewa de Silva and Chanaka Welegedara created havoc at the Nondescripts Cricket Club, swinging the ball at pace to earn their dismissals.
De Silva, who is in the Sri Lankans’ 14-man Test squad, beat a defensive push from Vaughan to clip the stumps.
He then culminated the charmed but short innings of Bell, who was dropped at slip and then caught off a no-ball, by finding the inside edge on the way through to wicketkeeper Kaushal Silva.
When Welegedara had out-of-form Pietersen caught behind in the next over, the seventh of the innings, England were 21-3.
Opener Cook provided the bulk of that total, having leg-glanced the first delivery of the second morning for four.
Although a couple of his six boundaries were through the gap between third slip and gully, Cook also clipped handsomely through the on-side twice when de Silva strayed.
It took the introduction of leg-spinner Kaushal Lokuarachchi to end a 23-run stand with Owais Shah, whose contribution to the share was zero, as a missed sweep resulted in a leg-before decision.
Shah got off the mark from his 34th delivery, in fact, thanks to a misfield, having been joined at the crease by Ravi Bopara, his rival for the number-six spot in the first Test, which begins in Kandy this Saturday.
Essex’s Bopara survived a confident lbw shout second ball to boost the scoring rate with a rare boundary moments after Shah had found the rope for the first time with a fierce pull off the returning de Silva.
Meanwhile, Durham fast bowler Steve Harmison spent the morning receiving treatment for his back spasm, after pulling up in mid-over yesterday.
Harmison, 29, limped out of the first day against the Sri Lanka Cricket Board President’s XI midway through his 11th over, the first of his fourth spell.
Fellow paceman James Anderson sent down the remaining three balls after Harmison departed, clutching the problem area, alongside physio Kirk Russell.
Harmison earlier bounced out President’s XI captain Tillekaratne Dilshan in figures of 10.3-1-45-1, as he worked up a head of steam on the Nondescripts Cricket Club pitch.