His stay was nearly a short one, but he was reprieved on review, having been given out well caught down the leg side by Ben Foakes.
England were in trouble when Foakes walked out to bat but his century, which he completed on Wednesday, proved the cornerstone of an eventual first-innings total of 342.
"It was a very good wicket but our batting was below-par", Chandimal said, adding it was not the farewell that he and his team mates had imagined for Herath.
"Jonny, fully fit, would have played this Test match, probably would have performed well, done well with the gloves and scored runs and we wouldn't be having this conversation", insisted Prior.
"It's a really hard day for us because we all know how much Rangana has done for the team and Sri Lankan cricket", said Chandimal in the post-match presentation.
"Credit goes to England, they played some outstanding cricket".
"I have only watched Keaton Jennings live in two test matches and he has got a hundred in both I must be his lucky charm!", former England great Allan Lamb said on Twitter. "We had a really good start in the first session but we couldn't capitalise on it".
Silva (30) was first to fall, three balls after drinks, when he stooped to sweep a drifting delivery from Jack Leach and was given lbw in front of middle stump. Sri Lanka's top-order collapse mirrored England's wretched start in the first innings, but lacked a Foakes-style rescue in their middle order.
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Fifteen without loss overnight, Sri Lanka's openers Kaushal Silva and Dimuth Karunaratne withstood the pressure from England's formidable bowling attack for the first hour on Friday.
After lunch Kusal Mendis hit Leach for four over his head but attempting a repeat the next ball skied the ball to Ali and departed for 46.
First ball after tea, Stokes held a very fine catch at slip when Niroshan Dickwella stabbed at Moeen.
Even Angelo Mathews could easily have fallen for a trap that England set for him early in his innings, when he pulled a short ball from Ben Stokes to the midwicket fielder, but he earned a reprieve as he was dropped by James Anderson.
He was followed into the pavillon by Akila Dananjaya for 8 before Herath was run out for five.
"After that, the way they batted, they took the game away from us".