The New Zealand cricketers have one day and nine wickets in hand to score an improbable target of 413 runs to win the first test against Sri Lanka in Galle.
Sri Lanka had ended the Black Caps first innings on 299 and then Tillakaratne Dilshan revelling in his new role as opener, scored 123 not out off 131 balls.
The home side declared at tea on 259 for 4, leaving a short evening session for the New Zealanders to begin their run chase.
Makeshift opener Daniel Flynn, standing in for Tim McIntosh, one of seven players to be hit by a stomach bug, was dismissed without scoring.
The Black Caps were 30 for one at the close, with Martin Guptill on 17 with Ross Taylor, eight.
New Zealand's fight to save the opening test was not helped by a stomach bug affecting seven members of the playing eleven.
Wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum and batsman Jesse Ryder were the mostly severely affected and were unable to take the field in the morning.
The team manager Dave Currie says Jacob Oram, Jeetan Patel, Flynn, McIntosh and Chris Martin were also affected.