Karunaratne was on 77 at the break with Lahiru Thirimanne on 14 as the visitors quietly went about trying to extend the game at Hagley Oval in Christchurch beyond the third day.

Thirimanne had been given out leg before wicket for 13 to spinner Mark Craig about 20 minutes before the break, but a  review suggested the ball would have bounced over the stumps and the decision overturned.

Sri Lanka, who had been asked to follow on after being skittled for 138 in their first innings, resumed their second innings on 84 without loss, still requiring another 219 runs to make New Zealand bat again after the hosts had made 441.

Karunaratne had been 49 overnight and moved to his fifth test half century on the second ball of a cool and overcast morning when he tucked a short delivery from Tim Southee off his legs towards mid-on to run a quick single.

Southee, however, ensured there was little opportunity for Sri Lanka's batsmen to celebrate the achievement when Kaushal Silva got a faint edge to wicketkeeper BJ Watling on the final ball of the over without adding to his overnight score of 33.

Trent Boult, whose 3-11 in seven overs before lunch on Saturday ripped the top off Sri Lanka's first innings, then captured the wicket of Kumar Sangakkara when the world's leading run scorer in 2014 edged a full delivery to Watling for one run to leave Sri Lanka 94-2.

Sangakkara had entered the game needing 12 runs to become the fifth man to surpass 12,000 test runs.

He scored six in the first innings and needs five runs in the second test in Wellington next week to become the fastest player to achieve the milestone.

Sangakkara has accumulated his runs in 223 innings, compared to India's Sachin Tendulkar and Australia's Ricky Ponting, who both needed 247 innings to surpass the mark.

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