Sri Lanka not worried about following on - Herath
Sri Lanka may have lost three of the four most prolific batsmen in their side on the second evening at the P Sara, but Rangana Herath says Sri Lanka will give little thought to avoiding the follow on. New Zealand made 412 in their first innings, with Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson both making hundreds, but Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene could only manage nine among the three of them.
Dilshan played around a straight ball that clattered into middle and off from Tim Southee, before Sangakkara failed to control a hook on zero, finding the only leg-side fielder in the deep. Mahela Jayawardene then flirted outside off stump repeatedly before edging a cover drive to gully off Trent Boult, who angled the ball across him.
The loss of three wickets means Sri Lanka have to rebuild in the first session tomorrow to earn parity with their opponents, but Angelo Mathews batted positively towards the end of play for an unbeaten 20, giving Sri Lanka hope of salvaging a good first-innings score. Opener Tharanga Paranavitana remained unbeaten on nine alongside him.
"We're not looking at the follow-on target, because we know the capability of our batsmen and if we bat well, we can go past 400 and past their score," Herath said. "We trust our batsmen to be able to do that. The first hour of tomorrow is very important for us. We have to make sure that we don't give away a wicket in that period and score as many runs as we can.
Mathews had contributed to a first-innings rescue in Galle, where Sri Lanka recovered from 50 for 5 to take a lead. Sri Lanka finished at a comparatively more comfortable 43 for 3 at the P Sara, but have a much steeper New Zealand total to overhaul than the visitors' 221 of the first Test.
"I think we can do it, like we did in Galle. This is a similar situation and Angelo and Para are batting really well for us."
Herath said that although Sri Lanka could have been more circumspect, New Zealand's fast men bowled well with the new ball. "I think we should have been little more cautious in batting than we were today, but mistakes can be there in any match. The most important thing is not really what happened, but how we are going to recover from this situation."
The hosts are unlikely to be without Thilan Samaraweera in the first innings, despite a split webbing on his hand that required stitches. Samaraweera sustained the injury at slip, when he spilt a difficult chance off Daniel Flynn, and Mathews was sent out to bat to allow him time to recover.
Herath also completed his third consecutive five-wicket haul on day two, taking 6 for 103 in the first innings. He became the highest wicket-taker in 2012 when he bagged 11 scalps in the first Test, but now trails Graeme Swann by one wicket after Swann took eight wickets against India. With Monty Panesar and Pragyan Ojha also taking five-wicket hauls in the Test in Mumbai, Herath said it had been a special few days for left-arm spinners.
"I think patience plays a crucial role for spinners. I played first-class cricket for more than 15 years and that taught me patience. This is my 42nd Test match but I think I have played more than 170 first-class matches."
Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent