Kevin Pietersen scored an exhilarating, if somewhat controversial, century to put England firmly in the driving seat in the second Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo.
Pietersen was at his scintillating best as he smashed an all-action 151, reaching his 20th Test century for England in just 109 balls - Alastair Cook having earlier fallen six short of a ton as the tourists posted 460 to lead by 181 runs at the close.
But Pietersen's repeated use of the 'switch-hit' caused plenty of consternation amongst the Sri Lankans and, in particular, Tillakaratne Dilshan who complained about him altering his stance during the bowler's run-in.
Indeed, his tactics actually drew a warning from umpire Asad Rauf, but England's number four did not let that ruffle him, rubbing salt into Sri Lankan wounds by moving to three figures with a pre-meditated reverse sweep that prompted ecstatic celebrations.
England had resumed on 154-1, with Cook on 77 and Jonathan Trott 15 - at that point Sri Lanka's lead stood at 121, a figure they whittled down to 100 inside six overs.
Sri Lanka then lost both their bowling reviews in the space of six balls - one a decent appeal for a gloved catch against Cook, the second a dreadful lbw shout following an inside edge from Trott.
Some of the hosts' frustration subsided when they picked up Cook with the new ball, Dilshan inducing an edge with his first ball of the day that was sharply taken at slip by Mahela Jayawardene.
Pietersen was off the mark quickly, pulling Lakmal contemptuously for his first boundary, while Trott was typically ruthless through the on-side as he passed 50.
Pietersen did offer one half-chance before lunch, looping the ball over the head of Hettige Thirimanne at short-leg via bat and pad, but England reached the interval without further loss on 239-2.
Mighty straight six
He then settled into his afternoon's work with a mighty straight six off Dilshan, but Trott quickly perished as he was also snaffled at slip by Jayawardene to give Rangana Herath a first wicket of the match.
Pietersen was not affected by the dismissal and a third maximum, again off Suraj Randiv, brought up a 59-ball half-century and, more importantly, took England into the lead.
In a bid to counter the increasingly aggressive Pietersen, home skipper Jayawardene packed his leg-side field and ordered defensive lines in an attempt to stifle, but he responded by unveiling a series of paddles, reverse sweeps and, latterly, his switch-hit.
That shot prompted the confrontation with Dilshan, but it was the bowler who seemed more affected by the rumpus with Pietersen first taking 18 runs off the over in question - smashing three terrible deliveries for two fours and a six - and then moving to his century in the next, celebrated with an exaggerated sprint and a fist pump.
Bell, who struggled to find any fluency, departed for a 53-ball 18 to give Dhammika Prasad a first wicket, but his innings, and that of Prior who mustered just 11 before falling to Herath, were mere sideshows to Pietersen's continued dramatics.
There was no let-up having reached his ton, the right-hander maintaining his ferocious pace with further sixes off first Herath and then Suranga Lakmal after he dropped short, before bringing up his 150 with another paddle off the former.
But he added just a further single before eventually missing a straight one and departing leg before to the left-arm spinner to leave England 411-6.
Tim Bresnan followed closely behind, bowled by Herath for five, but England's lead ticked beyond 150 when Graeme Swann got off the mark with a boundary.
Samit Patel was playing responsibly at the other end, allowing the tail-ender to attack - Swann obliged with six over long-on but was out next ball, mis-hitting a Herath full toss to cover.
James Anderson (two) gave the tireless Herath a sixth success before Patel was last man out as he was caught on the boundary rope for 29 off Randiv.
Anderson then had one unsuccessful over at nightwatchman Dhammika Prasad before the close as Sri Lanka closed on 4-0.