England faced just one over before stumps on day two and promoted Leach to open the innings.
Sri Lanka lost opener Kaushal Silva cheaply at the Pallekele International Stadium - bowled by Jack Leach for 6. "Spinners are going to have a huge role and we've got three great spinners all bowling very nicely".
If they are to take that advantage, however, Leach feels they need to bat well in their own second innings and then bowl with more discipline in Sri Lanka's. Clearly Sri Lanka have their noses ahead, that crucial lead of 46 giving them the advantage for the first time in the series.
"At one point we were hoping we would have that lead going into our batting but we're feeling good about bowling last on that wicket". But we know that if we bat well tomorrow then the pressure's on them.
Sri Lanka's Roshen Silva plays a shot as England's wicketkeeper Ben Foakes watches during the second day of the second test cricket match between Sri Lanka and England in Pallekele, Sri Lanka, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018.More news: California electrical company stock plunges after revealing possible link to devastating wildfire
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Root's struggle against left-arm spin, meanwhile, compounded England's crisis after the captain, dismissed twice by Rangana Herath in his farewell test in Galle, fell for 14 to Malinda Pushpakumara, who squeezed one through the batsman's defence. I panicked getting my stuff on and turned round and said 'who's coming with me?'
"If we can get England before 250 it will be a gettable target for us", he added.
Mathews narrowly missed out on catching Curran after rushing in from long on, though Dimuth Karunaratne did not err when the Surrey youngster went for another six two balls later. Next time we will study the fielder before taking that run.
"We had a chat and we're a little bit disappointed that they've got a lead", conceded Leach.
Sri Lanka hit back to reduce England to 109-4 but Root, Buttler (34) and Foakes built an imposing target in Pallekele, despite the pitch perhaps not being as hard to bat on as first thought.
Curran top scored for the visitors with a swashbuckling 64 which saw him smash six maximums and put together a record 10th wicket stand of 60 with fast bowler James Anderson.