Cardiff, May 28: Alastair Cook's appetite for runs showed no sign of being sated as he carried on from where he left off in Australia to guide England to 2-148 against Sri Lanka in Cardiff on Saturday.
But despite his 71 not out, England were still 252 runs behind Sri Lanka's first innings 400 at tea on the third day of the first Test.
This was England's first Test match since Cook made 189 in an innings win against Australia in Sydney in January that completed a 3-1 Ashes series victory during which the Essex opener scored a mammoth 766 runs at 127.66.
England lost injured nightwatchman James Anderson without adding to their overnight total of 1-47 after rain had washed out the morning session.
But Cook and Jonathan Trott (49 not out) then kept Sri Lanka at bay with an unbroken stand of 101.
However, their partnership was overshadowed by confirmation Ashes spearhead Anderson would not bowl again this match because of a side strain he suffered on Friday, with the swing bowler now doubtful for next week's second of a three-match series at Lord's.
Anderson, although fit to bat, did not last long after play resumed Saturday when he edged spinner Ajantha Mendis to Mahela Jayawardene at slip.
That left England 2-47, 353 runs adrift of a Sri Lanka total founded on a century from wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardene and several fifties.
The impending absence of Anderson, the pick of England's bowlers with three for 66 on Friday, from what was only a four-man specialist attack to start with put the onus on the hosts' batsmen.
Their aim was to compile a big total that would put Sri Lanka under 'scoreboard pressure' in the tourists' second innings and give England's remaining bowlers enough runs to play with in the rest of this match.
Cook, 24 not out overnight, knuckled down but when presented with a loose delivery from Rangana Herath cut the left-arm spinner for four.
Trott followed up by driving Herath to the cover boundary.
Left-hander Cook, whose fifty came off 112 balls, then produced a trademark clip off his legs for four against debutant seamer Thisara Perera.
It was an example of how Sri Lanka's attack lacked the raw speed and, Mendis apart, the guile to worry England on a typically good Sophia Gardens pitch. AFP