Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor powered New Zealand from a rocky start to reach 315-8 after batting first in the sixth one-day international against Sri Lanka in Dunedin on Sunday
The pair, who both fell just short of centuries, provided the backbone of the innings with a 117-run partnership for the third wicket after New Zealand were 59-2.
Williamson was caught in a running mix-up with Taylor and was gone for 97.
Taylor, who had been struggling for runs in the series, reached 96 before he was trapped leg before wicket by Tillakaratne Dilshan.
New Zealand had to survive without the power of Brendon McCullum who was out off the second ball he faced without scoring.
McCullum miscued an attempt to belt Dhammika Prasad out of the ground and was well caught by Thisara Perera -- and for the third time in the series New Zealand were one down with no runs on the board.
The previous woeful starts involved Martin Guptill but this time luck was on his side, for a while.
On six Guptill appeared to be trapped leg before wicket by Prasad. The umpire turned down the appeal and Sri Lanka sought a review only to learn the review system was temporarily out of action.
On 18, he survived a caught behind appeal, getting the benefit of the doubt when the replay was unable to conclusively show the ball had carried through to the keeper.
Guptill`s luck eventually ran out on 28 when he was caught behind off Perera.
Williamson, who should have been removed on 27 when Dilshan dropped a regulation chance at short cover, faced 95 balls for his 97.
In his past 14 innings, he has now posted two hundreds and eight half centuries.
Taylor, who has 11 ODI centuries to his name, faced 102 deliveries for his 96.
Corey Anderson chimed in with 40 from 28 deliveries and Luke Ronchi, backing up from 170 not out in the last game, added 13.
As New Zealand chased runs in the final over both Daniel Vettori and Kyle Mills were run out leaving Grant Elliott not out on 21.