England A trail by 83 runs with eight first-innings wickets remaining
Jon Lewis presented a compelling case to end his long wait for a Test debut with a stunning display of seam bowling to undermine Sri Lanka's preparations.
Bowling in favourable conditions on the opening day of the four-day match between England A and the tourists, 30-year-old Lewis claimed six wickets for 49 as Sri Lanka were dismissed for 179 just a week before the start of the three-Test series at Lord's.
Given strict instructions from the selectors to give the tourists a tough work-out and prevent them the practice they need, Gloucestershire seamer Lewis followed that edict to the letter and firmly put himself into consideration for the squad to be announced on Sunday morning.
Watched by selector Geoff Miller and chairman of selectors David Graveney, Lewis demonstrated what a threat he could be in early-season conditions at Lord's.
Setting the tone from the first ball of the day, which opener Michael Vandort edged to Warwickshire's Alex Loudon at third slip, Lewis never let Sri Lanka's batsmen settle and made a mockery of their decision to bat first after winning the toss.
He followed that early success with another scalp in his next over, this time Upul Tharanga attempted to clip off the legs and was brilliantly caught down the leg-side by diving wicketkeeper Chris Read.
Already deflated by news that prolific spinner Muttiah Muralitharan would be flying home to attend the funeral of his aunt and returning on Sunday, Sri Lanka could not have wished for a worse start to their final warm-up match.
Perhaps Lewis' most telling blow was to claim the scalps of Kumar Sangakkara and captain Mahela Jayawardene and end their prom-ising 30-run stand.
Jayawardene had progressed impressively to 16 when he was given out caught behind off an inside edge, a decision he looked puzzled about as he retreated to the dressing room, while Sangakkara edged behind attempting to drive.
By the time Lewis' eight-over new-ball spell had come to an end, he had claimed four for 22.
It was not a bad effort for Lewis. Having been ignored by the selectors since playing three one-day internationals, he was only drafted in at late notice after Lancashire's Sajid Mahmood was withdrawn ahead of his anticipated selection at the weekend.
Surrey all-rounder Rikki Clarke also pitched in by inducing Thilan Samaraweera into edging to Alastair Cook at second slip, but it took the return of Lewis for his second spell to end Sri Lanka's spirited middle order recovery.
Tillakaratne Dilshan and Chamara Kapugedera had exploited the absence of Lewis from the attack to plunder runs against the inexperience of Durham's Liam Plunkett, Clarke, Stuart Broad and Ravi Bopara and forge a 76-run sixth-wicket stand.
But just two overs after returning to the attack, Lewis won a leg-before appeal against Kapugedera and bowled Dilshan eight overs later as he attempted to drive and score the three runs he needed for his half-century.
Plunkett finished off the innings with three wickets either side of tea.
Aiming to further frustrate Sri Lanka with a solid reply in their innings, England A lost Cook to the sixth ball of their innings when he edged Chaminda Vaas to first slip while Owais Shah was caught at short leg off seamer Nuwan Kulasekera.
Captain Robert Key steadied the innings with an unbeaten 46 to guide England A to 96 for two, forging an unbroken 52-run stand with Middlesex's Ed Joyce.