Wellington: Kumar Sangakkara provided a cricket master class Sunday with an exquisite 203 to lift Sri Lanka off the ropes and put them in command of the second Test against New Zealand.
It was the 10th highest score of Sangakkara`s illustrious career and the 11th time he has reached 200, putting him one behind Australian legend Don Bradman for the most double tons.
Sri Lanka were all out for 356, a 135-run lead, and at stumps in their second innings New Zealand were 22-0 with Hamish Rutherford on 12 and Tom Latham on nine.
Sangakkara, who early in his innings became the fifth and fastest player to reach 12,000 Test runs, batted for nearly seven hours and faced 306 deliveries.
It took a stunning catch by Trent Boult diving high to his left at point to send Sangakkara back to the shed after he slashed at a loose Jimmy Neesham delivery.
After New Zealand dominated the first day when 15 wickets fell, their frontline seamers Boult, Tim Southee and Doug Bracewell never looked strong on day two.
It was master batsman Sangakkara, who unusually failed twice in the first Test, who appeared determined not to go cheaply again as Sri Lanka resumed at 78-5, 143 in arrears.Sangakkara put away his attacking instinct as he patiently led his side out of trouble taking 191 balls to reach his 38th Test century cutting Mark Craig for three.
With a three off Neesham in the next over he led Sri Lanka past New Zealand`s 221 with four wickets to spare and then dramatically lifted the tempo as the bowlers tired in the final session.
When Sri Lanka put their nose in front after 74 overs Sangakkara had a century including seven boundaries to his name.
When he was dismissed 28 overs later, he had contributed 103 of the next 134 runs, adding a further 11 fours and three sixes as he despatched the New Zealand bowlers to all points of the ground.
Through the slow hauling in of New Zealand`s total, Sangakkara had an admirable partner in Dinesh Chandimal.
Determined not to waste his recall after not being required for the first Test, Chandimal shared a 130-run partnership with Sangakkara for the sixth wicket.
He posted 1,000 runs in Tests on his way to 67, his sixth Test half century which ended when he edged an attempt to drive a full Neesham delivery and was caught by wicketkeeper BJ Watling.
Neesham and Watling combined again to remove Dhammika Prasad for 11 to have Sri Lanka 242-7.
Rangana Herath added 15 before was caught by Watling off Boult, and in a 67-run ninth wicket stand with Sangakkara, Suranga Lakmal provided only five runs.
The innings closed with Lakmal`s stumping to give Watling a hand in five dismissals.
For New Zealand, Neesham was the most successful bowler on day two with three for 42 while Doug Bracewell finished with three for 93 without adding to the trio of wickets he took late Saturday.