Galle (Sri Lanka) (AFP) - Angelo Mathews struck a gritty half century to help Sri Lanka’s fightback but England still held the advantage following Ben Foakes’ debut ton on day two of the first Test on Wednesday.

Mathews, batting on 52, put on 75 runs for the fifth wicket with skipper Dinesh Chandimal, who made 33, to resist a persistent England spin attack.

The islanders still trail by 206 runs in response to England’s first innings score of 342. Wicketkeeper-batsman Niroshan Dickwella, on 11, was partnering Mathews at the break.

Leg-spinner Adil Rashid broke the key stand after getting Chandimal, who batted with a groin strain, stumped to further dent the hosts’ batting which had slipped to 40-4 in the first session.

Mathews got his 50 with a boundary off paceman Ben Stokes but two balls later England debutant Rory Burns got a nasty hit on the back of the neck that prompted the umpires to call a break for tea.

Earlier Sri Lanka stuttered after losing their openers Dimuth Karunaratne, for four, and Kaushal Silva, for one, inside four overs.

James Anderson got Karunaratne caught behind on the second delivery of the innings and Sam Curran trapped Silva in just his second over as Sri Lanka slipped to 10-2.

Jack Leach and Moeen Ali then spun into action to take a wicket each as the hosts wobbled on a turning Galle pitch notorious for low scores.

The Joe Root-led England suffered a similar fate after electing to bat first as they fell to a precarious 103-5, but Foakes led their revival with his 107 in 202 balls.

The 25-year-old Foakes, who replaced injured Jonny Bairstow, became the 20th English batsman to score a hundred in his first Test.