That dismissal brought opener Dimuth Karunaratne and de Silva together, and the duo built a stand of 96 through some smart batting with England's bowlers looking bereft of ideas as the partnership grew. Silva guided the hosts out of trouble when they found themselves in trouble with six wickets down and more than 125 runs behind.
Sri Lanka were docked five penalty runs in the third session of the second day at Pallekele, following a unusual interpretation of the law governing deliberate short runs by the umpires. They remained intact, after opting to have nightwatchman Leach open the batting alongside Rory Burns instead of Keaton Jennings. "We are not so anxious about the five runs".
'If we bat well and get a good lead then that will put a lot of pressure on Sri Lanka'.
"Tomorrow if we can get a couple of wickets before they erase the deficit, we will be in a good position, so that is our plan".
England took the second new ball in the 83rd over, but to no avail, and soon captain Joe Root went back to his spinners.
Jos Buttler, on 38, and Moeen Ali (4) were the not out batsmen with paceman Suranga Lakmal and spinners Dilruwan Perera, Malinda Pushpakumara and Akila Dananjaya all taking a wicket each.
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The incident occurred during the third session of play on Thursday with the on-filed umpires deeming Roshen Silva for a deliberate short run.
The issue was resolved after the intervention of the Sri Lanka sports minister.
"We've got a nice score on the board and it was a great positive for Leachy to bowl a attractive ball to get rid of their opener". "Those balls look great but they're not creating a chance", he said.
While England, chasing a first overseas test series win since beating South Africa in early 2016, fielded the same side as Galle, Sri Lanka made two changes with Herath retiring and regular skipper Dinesh Chandimal ruled out with a groin injury.
De Silva kept his calm after losing Karunaratne and raised his fifty with a boundary off Stokes.
Bowling: Anderson 14-2-40-0, Curran 4-0-19-0, Leach 29-5-70-3, Ali 25-1-85-2, Rashid 22-2-76-3, Root 8-0-26-1, Stokes 1-0-9-0.