Skipper Mahela Jayawardene and vice-captain Angelo Mathews hit half-centuries to lead Sri Lanka's recovery on the second day of the opening Test against New Zealand in Galle on Sunday.
Sri Lanka were wobbling at 50-5 following paceman Tim Southee's three-wicket burst before reaching 190-5 in their first innings at tea in reply to New Zealand's 221, thanks to Jayawardene (68 not out) and Mathews (76 not out).
The pair defied the tourists' attack for more than a session with their sensible batting, having so far added 140 to boost their team's hopes of gaining the lead.
Sri Lanka are now 31 runs behind with five wickets in hand.
New Zealand went wicketless in the afternoon as Jayawardene and Mathews confidently gathered runs against both pace and spin, helping their team add 85 in the two-hour session.
Mathews was more aggressive in the second session, smashing a six over deep mid-wicket off spinner Jeetan Patel and then flicking paceman Doug Bracewell for a four to complete his ninth Test half-century.
He also hit 12 fours in his 134-ball knock, while Jayawardene cracked one six and eight fours in his 129-ball innings.
The New Zealand fast bowlers called the shots in the morning session as they took four wickets to put the hosts under pressure, with Southee grabbing three and Trent Boult one.
Southee dismissed opener Tharanga Paranavitana and nightwatchman Suraj Randiv in his opening two overs before accounting for Thilan Samaraweera, while Boult got a big wicket when he had Kumar Sangakkara (five) caught by Brendon McCullum at third slip.
Southee, who trapped debutant opener Dimuth Karunaratne leg-before for a duck on Saturday, struck with his fourth delivery on Sunday when he bowled Paranavitana for no score.
He got the third wicket in his next over, having Randiv caught by Martin Guptill at second slip after the batsman had added just six runs to his overnight score of three.
Southee had a chance to get another wicket, but skipper Ross Taylor reacted late at first slip to an edge from Samaraweera when the batsman was on seven.
But he did not have to wait long for his fourth success, trapping Samaraweera (17) leg-before when the batsman offered no stroke to a delivery that came in.© ANP/AFP