Matthew Hoggard enjoyed some sweet success with the new ball in Kandy as England made an excellent start in their series with Sri Lanka.
The Yorkshire bowler, playing his first Test since June due to injuries, claimed 4-29 to help bowl the hosts out for just 188.
Kumar Sangakkara's knock of 92 spared the Sri Lankans from complete embarassment after they had slipped to 42-5 before lunch.
England's reply got off to a disastrous start when Alastair Cook fell lbw to Chaminda Vaas in the first over without a run on the board.
However, Michael Vaughan and Ian Bell managed to make sure there were no further losses before bad light ended play arrived to end play early at 49-1.
The pair will hope to carry on their partnership on day two as England aim for a sizeable lead following the hard work done by the bowlers.
Ryan Sidebottom gave the visitors the early breakthrough they desired after the disappointment of seeing Vaughan lose yet another toss.
Sanath Jayasuriya - restored to the top of the order following the recent retirement of Marvin Atapattu - hit a loose drive towards cover that a diving Kevin Pietersen held onto.
From then on Hoggard took over, Michael Vandort becoming his first victim in an opening 10-over spell when he offered a simple catch to mid-on.
Mahela Jayawardene was the next to fall to the seamer, the Sri Lankan skipper edging the first ball after drinks to become the first of three catches for wicketkeeper Matt Prior.
Chamara Silva followed in a similar fashion in Hoggard's next over - one which also saw Jehan Mubarak sent packing for a duck.
Sangakkara could also have gone amidst the early morning carnage but an edge off James Anderson, who had been preferred to Steve Harmison, flew through where third slip would have been.
It was a rare error from the left-hander who had mixed a watchful defensive technique with the odd stylish shot to march towards possibly a fourth century in his last five innings.
Eventually he paid the price for looking to be aggressive with only the lower order for company, hitting James Anderson towards backward point where Paul Collingwood took a one-handed catch to his right.
His situation had been altered by Panesar's three-wicket burst that had begun with the vital scalp of Prasanna Jayawardene - ending a sixth-wicket stand of 106.
The wicketkeeper had hit nine fours in frustrating the tourists for more than two hours before Cook's sharp reaction catch saw him depart for 51.
Vaas did not mark his 100th Test appearance with a clever stroke, his attempt to cut Panesar only ending in him being bowled for 12, while Dilhara Fernando was caught at gully by Vaughan.
After Sangakkara fell the innings ended quickly and in comical circumstances - Muttiah Muralitharan run out by some distance trying to come back for a suicidal second run.