Galle: Offspinner Graeme Swann took 4 for 28 in leading England's fightback to restrict Sri Lanka's second innings to 84 for 5 and a 209-run lead after two days of the first Test on Tuesday.
England conceded a 125-run first-innings lead to Sri Lanka.
Opener Lahiru Thirimanne and senior batsmen Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera were all dismissed within 31 overs, leaving Sri Lanka 72 for 5.
Earlier, spinner Rangana Herath took 6 for 74 to end England's first innings for 193 in reply to Sri Lanka's 318.
A total of 17 wickets fell during the second day's play.