New England call-up Moeen Ali hit one of three half-centuries as the Lions closed on 299-9 after day one of their unofficial Test against Sri Lanka A in Pallekele.
Worcestershire all-rounder Moeen was last week named in England's squad to travel to West Indies this month and then the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.
The left-hander demonstrated encouraging form with nine fours and a six in his 62 from only 60 balls.
James Taylor (70) and number three Varun Chopra (58) also helped to ensure an apparently competitive first-innings total.
The hosts' Test seamer Dhammika Prasad and off-spinner Tharindu Kaushal were the pick of the bowlers, taking three wickets apiece.
England made a cautious start after being put into bat and lost openers Alex Lees and Sam Robson relatively cheaply to leave the score 62-2.
But Taylor shared stands of 50 and 92 with Chopra and Moeen to rally the Lions.
He was eventually perhaps a little unfortunate to be seventh out - caught behind off Kaushal despite no obvious deflection.
Last-wicket pair Graham Onions (16) and Tymal Mills (1) finished the day unbeaten for the Lions.