England had Sri Lanka 191-7 at one stage with the home side having lost three wickets in 10 balls in the first session.
However, Sri Lanka’s captain pushed on to score his 30th Test hundred but did offer four chances to the fielding side to take his wicket. None were taken, with England spinner Monty Panesar fluffing two straightforward catches in quick succession.
“We had four catches dropped which was frustrating, Mahela, I thought, played a brilliant innings probably the best Test Innings I have seen,” Anderson said.
“It’s just a shame that we could not finish them off throughout the day.
“I think it is in the balance, if you had given us 290-8 at the start of the day we would have taken it.”
Anderson bowled beautifully with both the new and older ball, and he was rewarded with his 250th Test wicket to put him level with another Lancastrian, Brian Statham, on the all-time England Test wicket-takers’ list.
However, Anderson was keen to remind people of where his focus lay while playing in this match.
“My job is to take wickets and help us win this Test Match and that it all I am concentrating on at the moment,” said the Lancashire bowler.
“Once my career is finished I can look back with fond memories and see where I get to on the list.”
The 29-year-old also singled out Samit Patel’s performance for praise as the Nottinghamshire spin bowler made his England Test debut.
“I thought he did brilliantly,” Anderson added. “It is very nerve racking in your first game and I thought he did exactly what was asked of him from the captain.
“Getting a couple of wickets and a couple of crucial ones actually, breaking partnerships just before the new ball was really just what we needed and all credit for him keeping his head.”