Galle:Bad weather appeared the main stumbling block in Sri Lanka's bid to win the first Test after illness-hit New Zealand were boxed into a corner on Friday. The tourists, set an improbable target of 413 following an unbeaten century by Tillakaratne Dilshan, plodded to 30-1 in 13 overs by stumps on the fourth day at the Galle International Stadium.
Dilshan made 123 not out as Sri Lanka declared their second innings at 259-4 at the stroke of tea. A sharp shower during the tea break interrupted play by 40 minutes but New Zealand lost the wicket of Daniel Flynn before stumps when he was caught in the slips off Nuwan Kulasekara.
Martin Guptill was unbeaten on 17 and Ross Taylor was on eight when bad light stopped play with 14 overs remaining in the day.
Rain has been forecast during the final day's play tomorrow in which Sri Lanka have three sessions to bowl out the tourists and take the lead in the two-Test series.
New Zealand may be without influential batsman Jesse Ryder and wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum in their second knock after the duo suffered a stomach bug and were confined to their hotel rooms today.
"They are very sick and I am not sure if, and at what stage, they will take part in this Test," Black Caps manager David Currie told reporters.
Sri Lanka accepted New Zealand's request to field reserve wicket-keeper Reece Young since Ryder had been nominated to don the gloves if McCullum got injured. Rules do not normally allow anyone outside the playing XI from keeping wicket.
Earlier, Thilan Thushara and Muttiah Muralitharan finished with four wickets each as New Zealand, replying to Sri Lanka's 452, were bowled out for 299 in their first innings.
Muralitharan, Test cricket's leading bowler, had Iain O'Brien caught behind to claim his 100th wicket at Galle and take his overall record tally to 774 wickets. Thushara then bowled Daniel Vettori in his first over, but not before the New Zealand captain had contributed a defiant 42.
Dilshan, promoted to open the innings in this Test for the first time in his career, followed a brilliant 92 in the first innings with 12 boundaries and a six in his ninth Test century.
Sri Lanka lost Tharanga Paranavitana before lunch when he was snapped up in the slips by Ross Taylor off O'Brien. Dilshan, batting in his typically aggressive manner, put on 101 runs for the second wicket with skipper Kumar Sangakkara and 54 for the third with Mahela Jayawardene.
Sangakkara was unlucky to be dismissed on 46 when Vettori deflected a powerful drive from Dilshan on to the non striker's stumps with the Lankan captain out of his crease.