Test rookies Chris Woakes and Scott Borthwick put England Lions in charge after day three of four against Sri Lanka A in Pallekele.
Captain Woakes put personal glory aside when he opted to declare on 319-8 when just eight runs short of a century, before taking two more wicket to reduce the hosts to 164-5 as they chased an improbably 479 to win.
Woakes (92no), who made his Test debut and won his only cap to date in last summer's drawn Ashes match at The Oval, shared an eighth-wicket stand of 155 in only 33 overs with Borthwick (64).
The leg-spinner also has just one Test to his name so far after being thrust into the final match of England's Ashes whitewash in Australia at Sydney last month.
Woakes hit eight fours from 130 balls, and Borthwick five from 96 in the Lions' 319-8 declared second innings.
Captain Woakes, who also took 4-45 in the hosts' first innings, came in at 138-6 after Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow had both gone caught-behind off Dhammika Prasad.
Off-spinner Tharindu Kaushal (3-98) then trapped Liam Plunkett lbw, but Woakes and Borthwick scored freely until the latter was stumped off Kaushal.
Woakes was unbeaten just short of his century but decided England had enough runs, challenging Sri Lanka A to make a highly-improbable 479 to win.
He soon set about proving so with the ball too, in an initial spell which brought him 2-10 in five overs.
The hosts lost both openers with only four runs on the board but recovered to a still very vulnerable 164-5 at stumps.