Dimuth Karunaratne and Dinesh Chandimal mounted a gritty third-wicket rescue mission for Sri Lanka in their reply to New Zealand’s first-innings 431 in the first Test in Dunedin on Friday.
It was slow and deliberate from the Sri Lankan pair after the tourists had slumped to 29 for two in a rocky start to their reply.
At tea, Sri Lanka were 103-2 with Karunaratne unbeaten on 59 and Chandimal on 31, more concerned with survival than runs.
After going to lunch at 38-2 they added just 65 in the middle session with the run rate crawling along at 2.14 in contrast to the 4.48 provided by the free-flowing New Zealand batsmen on the first day.
Karunaratne, who scored 152 in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to save the first Test against New Zealand in Christchurch a year ago, was given a torrid time by Trent Boult early in his innings.
But two edges fell just short of the slips cordon and one flew over wicketkeeper BJ Watling’s head for four before he eased into his work for his seventh half-century.
He has faced 162 balls for his 59 while Chandimal, Sri Lanka’s leading batsman, has faced 103.
Their approach helped the New Zealand bowlers to produce impressive figures.
Tim Southee, on his 27th birthday, leaked only 16 runs from 10 overs and spinner Mitchell Santner, brought into the attack in the 29th over, has none for 12 off 10 overs.
Of the two wicket-takers, Trent Boult has one for 21 and Neil Wagner one for 30.
Kusal Mendis was the first to fall when he edged Boult to provide wicketkeeper BJ Watling with his 100th Test dismissal.
The 20-year-old, promoted to open for his second Test after batting as first drop in his debut against the West Indies two months ago, never looked comfortable in the 19 balls he faced for his eight runs.
Udara Jayasundera, on debut, had even less time in the middle making one run before nicking the seventh ball he faced to Watling.
New Zealand added a further 22 runs at the start of the day with Bracewell reaching 47, his highest Test score, before being trapped lbw by Nuwan Pradeep.
Pradeep, the less threatening Sri Lankan pace bowler on the opening day, was ultimately the most successful with four for 112, while Suranga Lakmal and Dushmantha Chameera took two wickets each.