Colombo:Michael Vaughan and Alastair Cook smashed half-centuries and combined for a 133-run opening partnership on Sunday to give England a commanding start to the second cricket Test against Sri Lanka.
After winning the toss and electing to bat first at Sinhalese Sports Club, England lost just the wicket of captain Vaughan as went to tea on the opening day at 167-1.
Offspinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who failed to make a breakthrough off eight overs in the morning session, got lucky when Vaughan tried to steer on the on-side, but the ball stuck between the legs of silly mid-on fielder Jehan Mubarak.
Vaughan played a commanding innings of 87 for his 16th half-century, facing 139 balls including 12 boundaries.
Cook assumed a more sedate role and gave his skipper good support, and after Vaughan's departure took on the senior batsman's role to finish with 53 runs at the break facing 152 balls and hitting six boundaries.
Cook got a second chance while on 8 runs when Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene dropped him at slip off a Dilhara Fernando ball.
England must win this test to give itself a chance of winning the three-match series after an 88-run loss to Sri Lanka in the first match at Kandy last week.
Sri Lanka replaced its retired opener Sanath Jayasuriya with Upul Tharanga for the second test, while England handed Stuart Broad his first test cap after dropping pace bowler James Anderson.
The visitors also brought in Steve Harmison for injured Matthew Hoggard.