Galle: New Zealand led Sri Lanka by 9 runs at close of play on a see-saw day 2 at Galle which saw fortunes fluctuating from one team to the other.
New Zealand bounced back strongly from a wicketless second session, claiming five Sri Lankan wickets post tea to limit the hosts' advantage to 26, after Mahela Jayawardene and Angelo Mathews had threatened to take a much larger lead.
James Franklin broke the resistance, inducing an edge from Mathews and ending the sixth-wicket stand on 156. Sri Lanka were 15 behind at the time. They also lost Prasanna Jayawardene before the lead was taken and Mahela eventually steered his team ahead via a reverse-swept boundary off Jeetan Patel.
Patel, however, denied Mahela a hundred, when an attempted sweep resulted in the ball bobbing up off the glove and Kruger van Wyk dived forward to take a sharp catch. Patel finished with 3 for 55 as Sri Lanka were dismissed for 247.
Earlier, Sri Lanka were wobbling at 50-5 following paceman Tim Southee's four-wicket burst before reaching 190-5 in their first innings at tea.
The pair defied the tourists' attack for more than a session with their sensible batting, having so far added 256 to boost their team's hopes of gaining the lead.
Mathews was more aggressive in the second session, smashing a six over deep mid-wicket off spinner Jeetan Patel and then flicking paceman Doug Bracewell for a four to complete his ninth Test half-century.
He also hit 12 fours and a six in his 154-ball knock, while Jayawardene cracked one six and 11 fours in his 176-ball innings.
The New Zealand fast bowlers called the shots in the morning session as they took four wickets to put the hosts under pressure, with Southee grabbing four and Trent Boult one.
Southee dismissed opener Tharanga Paranavitana and nightwatchman Suraj Randiv in his opening two overs before accounting for Thilan Samaraweera, while Boult got a big wicket when he had Kumar Sangakkara (five) caught by Brendon McCullum at third slip.
New Zealand 221 (McCullum 68, Flynn 53, Herath 5-65, Eranga 3-51) and 35 for 1
Sri Lanka 247 (Mahela 91, Mathews 79, Southee 4-46)
Status New Zealand lead by nine runs