Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene has said he was "surprised" that England replaced "match winner" Monty Panesar for the second Test.
All-rounder Tim Bresnan came in for the 29-year-old left-arm spinner after England opted to play a third seamer.
"Monty is always a match winner on a wicket that will turn a bit," Jayawardene told BBC Sport.
"We anticipated that [decision] as well. They probably had to take a few gambles but Monty is a wicket-taker."
in the first Test, England's selectors decided to leave Sussex man Panesar, who returned figures of 2-101, out of the starting line-up.
A late rally by England in Colombo saw the hosts finish the opening day's play on 238-6, with paceman James Anderson the pick of the bowlers with figures of 3-52.
England fast bowler Steven Finn, who took one wicket for 43 runs, believed the decision had been "justified" as "five out of the six wickets have been taken by seam."
He said: "Monty has bowled very well since he came back into the side in Dubai. The guys who pick the team obviously thought it was the way forward on this wicket to pick three seamers."
The choice also owed much to Bresnan's potency with the bat after England were bowled out for 193 in the first innings and lost their final six wickets of the second innings for 31 runs in Galle.
Jayawardene continued: "I thought they also had concerns about the batting going with six batsman, five bowlers. They needed a bit of back-up as Samit [Patel] and [Tim] Bresnan both can bat, so that was a combination they felt they were comfortable with."
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