The New Zealand cricketers managed to avoid the follow on mark on day three of the first test against Sri Lanka in Galle, but they still have a long way to go if they're to hold out for a draw.
Jesse Ryder and Daniel Vettori came together in an 8th wicket partnership with the Black Caps still needing 30 runs to avoid the follow-on and put on a defiant stand of 36 after the tea break. Ryder was dismissed for 42, but skipper Vettori remained unbeaten on 33 as New Zealand ended the day at 8-281, still 171 runs behind Sri Lanka's first innings total.
The Black Caps, led by a gutsy 69 from left-handed opener Tim McIntosh, were sitting pretty at 180-3 before three wickets fell for 15 runs in the post-lunch session.
Star spinner Muttiah Muralitharan had two lucky breaks courtesy of the Australian umpire Darryl Harper when he was given a leg-before verdict to dismiss McIntosh and had Jacob Oram caught off the pad for 12.
Sri Lanka have two days, weather permitting, to force a win on a wearing wicket that has already started to assist the spinners. Just 76 overs were bowled during the day after heavy rain delayed the start by 90 minutes and bad light ended play 20 minutes early.