GALLE: England made an unconvincing start to life after Alastair Cook on Tuesday, stumbling their way to 199 for six at tea on the opening day of the first test against Sri Lanka.
Debutant Ben Foakes impressed, though, making 49 not out after featuring in one of the two half-century partnerships that propped up the tourists after they had slumped to 10 for two.
Sam Curran was batting on 14 at the break, having added 35 important runs for the seventh wicket with Foakes as England limited their losses to just one wicket in the second session.
England captain Joe Root had opted to bat first in order to avoid the prospect of having the final innings at a famously spin-friendly venue but it was the early pace of Lakmal that undid their top order.
Opener Rory Burns (nine) disappointed on his test debut and Moeen Ali failed to justify his promotion to number three with a golden duck as Lakmal claimed two wickets in two balls.
Root denied the paceman a hat-trick and started the rebuilding job, initially at a run-a-ball rate, with Keaton Jennings.
Sri Lanka wasted both their reviews inside 12 overs but it was the golden arm of retiring 40-year-old Rangana Herath that ended Root’s 62-run stand with Jennings.
Herath, who was given a guard-of-honour by his team mates ahead of his 93rd and final test, yorked an advancing Root to claim his 100th wicket at the venue where he made his test debut in 1999.
Root hit five boundaries in a fluent 35 before paying for his recklessness.
Dilruwan Perera dismissed Jennings for 46 and Ben Stokes for seven in his second spell, clean bowling both the left-handers to further peg back the tourists.
Jos Buttler and Foakes sensibly abandoned the ultra-aggressive batting which had cost them dearly in the morning session and combined in a 61-run stand for the sixth wicket.
Perera (3-38) dismissed Buttler for 38 but Foakes kept on going, bringing England close to the 200-mark while closing in on a fifty in his maiden innings.