Christchurch: Two late wickets by Trent Boult put New Zealand back in control of the first Test against Sri Lanka today after a maiden Test century by Dimuth Karunaratne had briefly given the tourists a glimmer of hope.
Sri Lanka were closing in on wiping out their 303-run first innings deficit with seven wickets in hand when Boult brought their cautious progress at Christchurch's Hagley Oval to a halt.
He removed the defiant Karunaratne for 152 and Niroshan Dickwella for four as Sri Lanka were reduced to 293-5 at stumps, still 10 runs from making New Zealand bat again.
Angelo Mathews is not out 53 with Tharindu Kaushal on five while Boult, New Zealand's chief wicket taker, has three for 62. Karunaratne's wicket was vital for New Zealand after the 26-year-old had stood in 87-run partnership with Lahiru Thirimanne (25) for the third wicket and then a 97-run stand with Angelo Mathews. The left-hander had been under enormous pressure after making a four-ball duck in his opening bat when Sri Lanka were rolled for a paltry 138 in reply to New Zealand's 441 and were forced to follow on.
But he handled the occasion with aplomb as he easily surpassed his previous Test best of 85. Sri Lanka were in trouble when they lost two quick wickets at the start of the third day, including another failure by the world's top ranked batsman Kumar Sangakkara.
But if New Zealand's hopes were up with Sri Lanka at 94-2 and trailing by 209, Karunaratne had other ideas. With survival foremost in his mind he was in the middle for a shade over eight hours and faced 363 deliveries in his marathon stand which included 17 fours.
Before being bowled by Boult he had offered one opportunity 17 runs earlier but the nick off spinner Mark Craig went through Ross Taylor's left hand at first slip. Karunaratne started the day on 49 with Sri Lanka 84-0 and reached his fifth half century with a single off the second ball.
But celebrations were short-lived when Kaushal Silva was caught behind four balls later, without adding to his overnight 33, and Kumar Sangakkara followed soon after to have the tourists at 94-2.
It was a disappointing outcome for Sangakkara, the most prolific batsman in the world this year with 1,493 runs from 22 innings, including a 50 in each of his past nine Tests.
He could only manage seven from his two innings against New Zealand and remains six runs short of becoming the fifth member of the exclusive group of Test cricketers to score more than 12,000 runs.