Sri Lanka, needing a win to square the two-match series, tied down the home batsmen with a mixture of spin and swing. Only the opener Blair Pocock mastered the bowling with his best Test score, 85, patiently compiled over 286 minutes at the crease.
The tourists had an early breakthrough when Bryan Young, fresh from an unbeaten 267 in New Zealand's first Test win by an innings and 36 runs, was run out for just four.
(First day; New Zealand won toss)
NEW ZEALAND - First Innings
B Pocock c Tillakaratne b Muralitharan 85
B A Young run out 4
M J Horne b Zoysa 21
*S P Fleming c Mahanama b Zoysa 2
N J Astle lbw b Zoysa 0
C L Cairns c Ranatunga b Dharmasena 10
A C Parore run out 25
D N Patel c Dharmasena b Muralitharan 13
D Vettori b Muralitharan 4
S B Doull c A De Silva b Vaas 20
H T Davis not out 8
Extras (b11 lb9 nb10) 30
Total (90.4 overs) 222
Fall of wickets: 1-19 2-88 3-96 4-100 5-126 6-172 7-172 8-178 9-203.
Bowling: Vaas 12.4-1-32-1; Zoysa 18-3-47-3; S de Silva 15-4-36-0; Dharmasena 22-7-39-1; Muralitharan 22-4-43-3; Jayasuriya 1-0-5-0.
SRI LANKA: *A Ranatunga, S T Jayasuriya, R S Mahanama, P A De Silva, H P Tillakaratne, R S Kaluwitharana, C Vaas, N Zoysa, M Muralitharan, K Dharmasena, S De Silva.