Keaton Jennings dug deep as England stretched their lead over Sri Lanka to 250 in the first Test at Galle.
Jennings batted throughout the third morning for 60 not out – his first half-century since his second Test almost two years ago – as the tourists reached 111 for three by lunch.
The left-hander was considered fortunate to hang on to his place after a troubled summer, but, having already made 46 in the first innings, he has repaid the selectors’ faith with reserves of concentration and character.
England scored 73 runs for three wickets in the session, scoring just two boundaries as they favoured hard work and hard running over exuberant strokeplay.
Sri Lanka made some inroads as they scrapped for a foothold, Rory Burns (23), Moeen Ali and Joe Root (both three) all falling in vastly different circumstances.
Burns, having already survived a close DRS referral, was first to go, run out for 23 by Dimuth Karunaratne.
His eagerness to dash through after tapping the ball into the onside perhaps betrayed a growing frustration and, following a soft dismissal for nine in his maiden knock, he will perhaps see his Test debut as a missed opportunity.
Moeen avoided a pair but did not linger, desperately hacking Dilruwan Perera to mid-on attempting to up the ante.
Root was the key wicket and retiring hero Rangana Herath claimed it for the second time in the match, gripping the surface and taking the edge as the captain pushed forward.
Jennings had a slice of luck late in the session, surviving an lbw shout that would have been given out on review had one been called.
England bowler James Anderson, meanwhile, has been reprimanded by the International Cricket Council for the second game in a row.
Anderson was handed a demerit point under the ICC code of conduct after showing dissent to umpire Chris Gaffaney in the 39th over of the Sri Lanka innings during the ongoing first Test.
Anderson was warned for running on the wicket and reacted by complaining, then hurling the ball into the pitch.
The 36-year-old already has one demerit point to his name for a similar offence during England’s previous Test against India in September. Four points in a two-year period can lead to a ban.