Sri Lanka have got off to a strong start in their chase for a 268-run victory target after skipper Dimuth Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne frustrated the Black Caps with a 133-run opening stand on day four of the opening Test in Galle.
After New Zealand made 285 all out to leave the hosts with a tricky fourth- innings target, Karunaratne and Thirimanne batted sensibly through the last two sessions on Saturday to swing momentum their way.
Karunaratne hit only two boundaries in his patient 71, while Thirimanne stroked four of them in his sedate 57 before bad light stopped play with the hosts needing 135 to go 1-0 up in the two-test series.
The home captain needed luck to reach his half century, which he did when BJ Watling, who had an outstanding match with the bat, could not hold on to a catch after Karunaratne had edged spinner Will Somerville.
Earlier, Watling and Somerville batted resolutely to frustrate Sri Lanka after New Zealand resumed on 195 for 7.
Watling, who had completed his fifty on Friday, fell for 77 which is the highest test score by a New Zealand wicketkeeper in Sri Lanka.
Trent Boult chipped in with 26 useful runs while Somerville remained not out on 40 after facing 118 balls.
For the hosts, spinners Lasith Embuldeniya (4-99) and Dhananjaya de Silva (3-25) shared seven wickets between them.