Sri Lanka were bowled out for 203 in their first innings Wednesday to trail by 139 against England on day two of the first Test in Galle.
Angelo Mathews helped the hosts fight back with his 52 after an early slip to 40-4 following England's 342. Mathews departed soon after the tea break and the Sri Lankan innings folded in the final session.
Off-spinner Moeen Ali claimed four wickets for the tourists in the match, which marks Sri Lankan spin legend Rangana Herath's swansong.
Sri Lanka 42-4 at lunch in first England Test
Sri Lanka were 42 for four at lunch on day two in response to England's first innings total of 342 in Wednesday's first Test at Galle.
Skipper Dinesh Chandimal, on one, and Angelo Mathews, on three, were batting at the break after England bowlers wreaked havoc in just 19 overs.
James Anderson, Sam Curran, Jack Leach and Moeen Ali took a wicket each to back up wicketkeeper-batsman Ben Foakes, who early on became the 20th England cricketer to make a Test debut ton.