Jimmy Anderson and Chris Tremlett both made notable returns as England put Sri Lanka in trouble on a rainy first day of the third npower Test at the Rose Bowl.
Anderson was back after missing the Lord’s stalemate with a side injury, and Tremlett at the ground where he learned his trade before his move to Surrey last year.
Neither wasted his opportunity after Andrew Strauss gave his bowlers first use of what turned out to be a pacy pitch, in favourable conditions after heavy overnight and morning rain.
The upshot, in the 38 overs possible between more interruptions for bad weather, was two wickets each in a stumps total of 81 for four.
Anderson was almost immediately posing a significant threat with new-ball swing in this inaugural Test for this venue.
Yet it appeared Sri Lanka’s left-handed opening pair Tharanga Paranavitana and debutant Lahiru Thirimanne’s skill and concentration might pull them through the delayed first session.
Thirimanne played promisingly in compact defence only to then edge an attempted push-drive for a routine catch at first slip, giving England an especially timely first breakthrough just two balls before rain returned.
Sri Lanka had not managed to add a run after the extended lunch break when Tremlett, preferred to Stuart Broad at the Pavilion End, struck with only the fifth delivery of the afternoon.
Paranavitana was undone by full-length swing, pinned lbw on the crease.
Stand-in captain Kumar Sangakkara then failed for the fifth time in as many attempts in the series, driving and edging a wide one from Anderson as a third wicket fell for the addition of only six runs.
Sri Lanka’s brittle batting looked in jeopardy as Anderson continued to demonstrate his well-being after last week’s inactivity.
More rain returned to bring an early tea and no more play until 6pm.
With 20 overs remaining, there was still an obvious chance for more England gains.
And Tremlett made sure they began well with a near unplayable delivery which seamed away and bounced on Mahela Jayawardene for another caught-behind, and 37 for four.
The powerhouses of Sri Lanka’s line-up were out of the equation, and Thilan Samaraweera and Prasanna Jayawardene faced an unenviable task to keep England’s pace attack at bay.
It took Jayawardene 16 balls before he was off the mark with an unconvincing four past gully off Tremlett, and his partner was necessarily watchful too.
Respite arrived, however, when Strauss decided Anderson needed a rest.
And although the Lancastrian returned to bowl another four overs before the close, the fifth-wicket pair stood firm in an unbroken stand that more than doubled the total.