The last pair of Shaminda Eranga (45 not out) and Suranga Lakmal (16) thwarted the hosts' attempts to bowl them out before the scheduled lunch break with a 59-run partnership characterised by lusty slogs across the line.

New Zealand need 105 runs for victory to take a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.

Sri Lanka had resumed the fourth day on 293 for five, still 10 runs short of making the hosts bat again, with Angelo Mathews on 53 and nightwatchman Tharindu Kaushal on five.

Mathews ensured New Zealand would come out for a second innings when he got an inside edge off Trent Boult in the fourth over of the day that went to the fine leg boundary.

Southee, however, made the breakthrough when he had Kaushal (12) fending at a short ball to leave Sri Lanka with a lead of four runs with four wickets remaining.

Mathews then threw away his wicket when he made a half-hearted effort to a short Southee delivery and only succeeded in getting a nick through to wicketkeeper BJ Watling for 66.

Southee then had Dhammika Prasad (4), caught by Ross Taylor at first slip, two balls after the former captain had dropped a similarly easy catch.

Wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene was then caught by Southee at long off for 23 off spinner Mark Craig to leave the visitors nine down with a 45-run lead.

The third day had been dominated by Dimuth Karunaratne's maiden test century as he thwarted the New Zealand attack for 363 balls before he was bowled by Boult for 152.

The second test is at Wellington's Basin Reserve from January 3-7.

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