Battling knocks from Varun Chopra and captain Chris Woakes helped rescue England Lions from 78-3 as they reached 302-5 on day one of third unofficial Test against Sri Lanka A.
Chopra worked his way to a patient 83 as the tourists recovered from an early slump, before Warwickshire teammate Woakes struck an unbeaten 84 to elevate the Lions over the 300 threshold at stumps in Colombo.
All-rounder Woakes, batting at No 6, shared an unbroken 130 partnership with Scott Borthwick, who contributed 59 to the England cause.
Lahiru Gamage was the outstanding bowler on day one of four at the Premadasa Stadium, ousting second 'Test' centurions Sam Robson and James Taylor en route to figures of 2-37 from 14 overs.
Sri Lanka A made three alterations but it was Gamage, one of the retained players, who caused most threat and he snared Robson for nought in the fourth over.
When Taylor, who struck a double-hundred at Dambulla, was bowled by Gamage for 14 the Lions looked destined for trouble.
Robson's opening partner Alex Lees stuck around for a while, before he went lbw for 20 to Suraj Randiv.
However, Jonny Bairstow supported number three Chopra, who normally opens for his county, with a fluent 20 before falling to Dushmantha Chameera.
Chopra and Woakes were one short of a 50 partnership when Jeevan Mendis trapped the former in front straight after tea.
Woakes and Borthwick then dominated the final session, with the captain regularly going on the attack while his partner was more conservative.
England Lions lead the three-match series 1-0 following a 167-run win in the opener at Pallekele.