WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- Kumar Sangakkara scored his 52nd career half century to help revive Sri Lanka's first innings before lunch Sunday on the second day of the second cricket test against New Zealand.
Sri Lanka struggled to gain traction early in its innings on Saturday and resumed at 78-5, chasing New Zealand's first innings total of 221. But Sangakkara and Dinesh Chandimal opened the first session with an unbroken 81-run partnership to bring the visitors within 62 by the midday break.
Sangakkara 66 not out and Chandimal 45.
After compiling 1,493 test runs in 2014, Sangakkara started the new year in similar style, reaching his half century from 105 balls with his fourth boundary. Both he and Chandimal were occasionally beaten by balls that deviated a degree from their original line, but they also played off both feet with confidence.
When the teams last met in New Zealand in 2006, the hosts won the first test at Christchurch -- just as they did last week, by eight wickets -- but Sri Lanka won the second at Wellington. Sangakkara scored 4 and 100 not out in the first test, then came to the Basin Reserve and scored 156 not out and 8.
In this series, Sangakkara had scores of 6 and 1 in the first test, but worked hard in the week between the first and second tests to correct his technique against the swinging and seaming ball. He was much more himself on Sunday: patient, confident and well-balanced.
Chandimal kept his normally aggressive batting style under control to provide Sangakkara with the support he needed. He had six boundaries by lunch, most coming from superbly timed flicks or pushes through the leg side.