New Zealand enjoyed an excellent second day's play in Colombo, scoring 412 in their first innings and then reducing Sri Lanka to 43 for three in the second Test.
Bidding to avoid a record-equalling sixth straight Test defeat, all has gone to plan so far in the match thanks to twin centuries from Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor and then an incisive burst with the new ball.
Taylor stroked 142 and Williamson 135 in a 262-run third-wicket partnership and after Tim Southee grabbed a brace of wickets and Trent Boult one, Sri Lanka closed some 369 runs behind and with three of their best batsmen already dismissed.
Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene mustered just nine runs between them as New Zealand took charge, and bet365 now make them 11/4 to win the game although the draw (4/7) remains the overwhelming favourite.
Sri Lanka's one bright spot was the continued form of Rangana Herath, who returned figures of six for 103 to bring about the end of New Zealand's innings.
Daniel Flynn made 53 to offer support to Williamson once Taylor had been removed by Herath although Williamson also fell to the same bowler and method of dismisal - leg before wicket.
Flynn too was out trapped in front to Herath before the left-armer combined with off-spinners Dilshan and Suraj Randiv to rip through the lower order.
Herath completed his 13th five-wicket haul by dismissing Todd Astle (3), Southee (15) and Boult (1) while Dilshan bowled Kruger van Wyk for nought and Randiv had Doug Bracewell caught by Herath for 24.
Jeetan Patel was unbeaten on 25 as he and Flynn helped New Zealand get past the 400-run mark.
Dilshan hit one boundary, making his customary aggressive start but he was not to last much longer as he was bowled by Southee, who then had Sangakkara caught by Boult without scoring from the second ball he faced.
New Zealand's day got even better when Jayawardene was caught by Williamson off Boult for four. The scoreboard read 12 for three at that point but Sri Lanka closed on 43 thanks to the beginnings of a recovery led by Tharanga Paranavitana (9 not out) and Angelo Mathews (20 not out).
Critical to Sri Lanka's chances is how well they respond to losing early wickets and whether they can emulate New Zealand, who were 14 for two when Williamson and Taylor came together on the opening day.
© Cricket World 2012
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