Kumar Sangakkara addressed one glaring omission on his outstanding CV by making his first Test hundred at Lord's on a day of predictably hard grind for England's bowlers.
Sri Lanka spent five sessions of this first Test trying to contain England on the way to 575 for nine declared.
But thanks to Sangakkara (147), captain Angelo Mathews (79 not out) and Mahela Jayawardene (55), the roles were reversed as Sri Lanka took their turn to bat on a steadfastly benign Lord's surface.
England were powerless to stop Sangakkara matching Test hundreds to his age – 36 each– but a stumps total of 415 for seven meant the hosts still had a three-figure first-innings lead in their sights.
The old firm of Sangakkara and Jayawardene took over after England shifted only opener Kaushal Silva on a gloomy morning and were then shut out for more than two-and-a-half hours by two all-time class acts.
The upshot was a stand of 126, in which Sangakkara broke new ground when he cover-drove Joe Root on the up for his 10th four to reach three figures from 182 balls.
The moment of realisation overcame not just him but also the usually under-stated Jayawardene, who still leads his close friend 2-1 in Lord’s hundreds and was delighted with Sangakkara’s achievement – expressing himself by charging up the pitch to ‘mug’ his third-wicket partner mid-celebration with a neck-high bear hug.
Even heavy cloud cover and the need for floodlights until mid-afternoon made precious little difference as England toiled on a pitch which refused to misbehave.
Sangakkara took most advantage, but Jayawardene and then Mathews too – prolific since taking over as captain – confirmed a liking for the highly favourable conditions.
All three were in no mood to miss out here, although Jayawardene was discomforted for a time when Liam Plunkett went round the wicket and peppered him with short balls.
Sangakkara, who made a one-day international century at Lord’s just last month, doubtless assessed – in his fourth Test and what may well be his final match for Sri Lanka at the ground – that he can rarely have had a better opportunity to register one in the elite format too.
Accordingly, he was risk-free against a hard-working attack.
After James Anderson conceded six runs in the first over of the day, including a cover-driven four for Sangakkara, the tourists registered only another four runs in the next seven overs.
Alastair Cook had catchers in place behind and in front of the wicket but, on this slow pitch, tempered his tactics with a boundary sweeper on either side to Sangakkara.
It was eventually Silva (63) who succumbed. Anderson broke the second-wicket stand on 97, doing well to find some life with a short ball which followed Silva and was deflected off the bat face to Matt Prior, who reacted well to the late change of direction.
Sangakkara and Jayawardene then took over, and it was not until one had his hundred and the other a 90-ball 50 that England struck again.
The second new ball helped to do the trick for Stuart Broad, who defeated Jayawardene's forward-defence from the nursery end to win an lbw verdict, even after his victim had tested DRS.
After Anderson then also nipped out Lahiru Thirimanne just before tea, chipping tamely to midwicket, there was just a fleeting chance the follow-on might yet come into the equation.
Sangakkara was having none of that, though, and neither was Mathews, in a fifth-wicket stand of 96.
It was Mathews with the attacking intent, allowing Sangakkara to play at his own pace just as Prior had for England’s eventual double-centurion Root on day one.
Sangakkara had a third hundred in three consecutive Test innings under his belt, uniquely in cricket history for the third time in his career, and was apparently pressing on remorselessly to more milestones when he lost concentration cutting Moeen Ali and edged an off-break behind. Mathews had already raced past his 50 in only 64 balls.
But Cook's enterprising field placement brought another evening wicket, when Prasanna Jayawardene speared a half-volley from Plunkett to leg-slip Ian Bell, and then Jordan had Nuwan Kulasekara edging behind just before stumps.