Steven Finn paid tribute to James Anderson after his England team-mate ripped through the Sri Lanka top order on day one of the second Test in Colombo.
Anderson claimed three early wickets to reduce the hosts to 30-3 before England were held up by a fourth-wicket stand of 124 between Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera.
But the tourists fought back to leave Sri Lanka on 238-6 by the close of play and Finn, who took 1-43 on his return to the side, believes Anderson laid the foundations for an encouraging day's play.
"He's an exceptional bowler, he showed that again today with three early wickets and being consistent throughout the day," Finn told Sky Sports.
"He's someone that I've looked up to throughout my career and since I've come into the team he's helped me vastly and hopefully I can still keep learning from him."
Jayawardene claimed his second century of the series before being dismissed by Graeme Swann and Finn believes the shares were spoiled over the course of the day.
He added: "Personally I think we've had a pretty good day there, it was a good day of attritional Test cricket.
"Jayawardene obviously played fantastically well and kept us at bay for a fair while but I thought that we stayed patient and at the end of the day it was pretty even."
With Stuart Broad injured both Finn and Tim Bresnan were brought in to bolster England's seam options, with Monty Panesar dropping out of the side.
Finn said: "The guys who are picking the team have obviously picked a team that they think will win the game. Monty has bowled fantastically well but unfortunately he's missed out.
"I think five out of the six wickets to fall today were taken by seamers.
"So I suppose it was justified in a way and I think Samit (Patel) did a very good job as the second spinner holding up an end and going at two an over."
Sri Lanka skipper Jayawardene believes that England got slightly the better of the day's play after Anderson's dispatching of the top three, which included Kumar Sangakkara falling for a golden duck for the second time in three innings.
"In a way. Losing three wickets up front put us on the back foot," Jayawardene said.
"We have to fight ourselves back into the game tomorrow. The top order have had a decent run before, so it's just in this series (where they have failed to score many runs).
"Kumar has been in wonderful form but unfortunately he has missed out a couple of times."
Jayawardene, who notched his second century of the series and the 31st of his Test career, believes that focusing on the basics is the key to his prolific scoring.
He added: "I just try to keep things very simple. What I do is try to bat the way I want to. I have a game plan and I try to execute that.
"I know their strengths so I try to stay away from that and I try to control the game. The focus has been to do the simple things.
"The wicket is pretty slow and on top of that England bowled pretty well, much more disciplined than Galle. It wasn't easy for us to score runs, so credit should go to them as well."