Kandy - Opener Rory Burns hit his maiden Test half-century to give England a crucial 85-run second-innings lead against a persistent Sri Lankan spin attack in the second Test on Friday.
The left-handed Burns, playing just his second international match, made 59 off 66 deliveries before being trapped lbw off Malinda Pushpakumara on day three in Kandy.
Spinners led by Dilruwan Perera struck regularly in the morning session as England took lunch on 131 for four. Skipper Joe Root, on 26, and Jos Buttler, on 14, were batting at the break.
Perera wasted little time in sending night-watchman Jack Leach back to the pavilion for one in just the second over of the day.
Burns then put together 73 runs for the second wicket with Keaton Jennings, who made 26, to steady the innings and help England overcome their 46-run deficit.
Burns got to his 50 with a boundary off Akila Dananjaya, to a rousing ovation from the travelling English fans.
But he fell soon after and new man Ben Stokes was then out for nought off Perera as the tourists slipped to 109-4 on a deteriorating and viciously turning pitch.
Root, who technically came in at the rotating number three spot after Leach opened with Burns on Thursday, then played some positive cricket to put on 22 quick runs with Buttler.
England lead the three-match series 1-0.