Alastair Cook's appetite for runs showed no sign of being sated, as he carried on from where he left off in Australia, to guide England to 148 for two against Sri Lanka here on Saturday.
But despite his 71 not out, England were still 252 runs behind Sri Lanka's first innings 400 at tea on the third day of the first Test.
This was England's first Test match since Cook made 189 in an innings win against Australia in Sydney in January that completed a 3-1 Ashes series victory during which the Essex opener scored a mammoth 766 runs at an average of 127.66.
England lost injured nightwatchman James Anderson without adding to their overnight total of 47 for one after rain had washed out the morning session.
But Cook and Jonathan Trott (49 not out) then kept Sri Lanka at bay with an unbroken stand of 101.
However, their partnership was overshadowed by confirmation that Ashes spearhead Anderson would not bowl again this match because of a side strain he suffered on Friday, with the swing bowler now doubtful for next week's second of a three-match series at Lord's.
Anderson, although fit to bat, did not last long after play resumed, when he edged spinner Ajantha Mendis to Mahela Jayawardene at slip.
That left England 47 for two, 353 runs adrift of Sri Lanka's 400. — AFP
Sri Lanka — 1st Innings:400.
England — 1st Innings:A. Strauss c M Jayawardene b Lakmal 20, A. Cook (batting) 71, J. Anderson c M Jayawardene b Mendis 1, J. Trott not out 49, Extras (b-4, lb-1, nb-2): 7; Total (for 2 wkts in 52 oversat tea) 148.
Fall of wickets:1-46, 2-47.
England bowling:Lakmal 13-4-23-1, Perera 11-1-41-0, Dilshan 2-0-9-0, Maharoof 8-1-29-0, Mendis 10-3-14-1, Herath 8-0-27-0.