Samaraweera holds SL innings together
Samaraweera, who had three stitches inserted into the webbing on his right hand on Monday after dropping a catch, made an unbeaten 76 to help steer the home side very slowly to 225 for six by the close of play on the third day.
It meant Sri Lanka still trailed by 187 runs following New Zealand’s first innings total of 412, but it was a vast improvement on their position midway through the afternoon session when they had slipped to 128 for six.
Samaraweera was his usual calm and assured self despite his injury and by the close of play which came 25.4 overs early because of bad light, he had batted for 209 minutes, facing 156 balls and hitting five fours.
The unbeaten innings took his tally at the venue to 597 runs at an average of 99.50, including two hundreds.
Samaraweera found a willing ally in off-spinner Suraj Randiv as the pair added an unbroken 97 runs for the seventh wicket to frustrate the efforts of Ross Taylor’s side to force a victory that would level the two-match series.
Samaraweera and Randiv’s partnership was a record for the seventh wicket at the venue - which has staged 17 Tests, including Sri Lanka’s first against England in 1982 - eclipsing the previous mark of 85 set by Pakistan’s Inzamam-ul-Haq and Wasim Akram in 1994.
Tim Southee was the most successful bowler for New Zealand with four for 51. He followed up his opening burst of two for 16 on Monday with two more victims.
Resuming at 43 for three, overnight batsmen Tharanga Paranavitana (40) and Angelo Mathews (47) took their partnership to 90 and the total to 102 before Paranavitana edged Southee to Kruger van Wyk behind the stumps.
That was after Paranavitana was dropped by Taylor at first slip off the luckless Trent Boult (one for 34) when the batsman had scored 32.
The first Test of the series in Galle was won by Sri Lanka by 10 wickets inside three days.
NEW ZEALAND (I Innings): 412
SRI LANKA (I Innings, O/n: 43/3):
P’vitana c Van Wyk b Southee 40
Dilshan b Southee 5
Sangakkara c Boult b Southee 0
M J’rdene c Williamson b Boult 4
Mathews c Guptill b Southee 47
Samaraweera (batting) 76
P J’rdene c Williamson b Patel 12
Randiv (batting) 34
Extras (LB-3, W-1, NB-3) 7
Total (for 6 wkts, 86.2 overs) 225
Fall of wickets: 1-7, 2-7, 3-12, 4-102, 5-103, 6-128.
Bowling: Southee 19-3-51-4, Boult 17-5-34-1, Patel 22-3-47-1, Astle 13-2-41-0, Bracewell 13-1-44-0, Williamson 2.2-1-5-0.