(CNN) -- New Zealand are battling to save the opening cricket Test against Sri Lanka despite some stubborn late batting resistance on the third day in Galle.
New Zealand opener Tim McIntosh passed the half-century mark for the second time in his short Test career.
Resuming on 85-2 in reply to Sri Lanka's daunting 452 all out, the Kiwis reached stumps at 281-8 -- still 171 runs behind -- when bad light stopped play.
Opener Tim McIntosh made a patient 69 off 226 deliveries but wickets tumbled once he fell in the second session, until captain Daniel Vettori (33 not out) and Jesse Ryder (42) added some stability at the end of the day.
World record wicket-taker Muttiah Muralitharan trapped McIntosh leg before wicket, having dismissed nightwatchman Jeetan Patel for 26 in similar fashion in the morning session.
McIntosh, whose only other innings past 50 was 136 made in his second Test against the West Indies in December, was a little unfortunate as he appeared to be hit outside the line of the wickets.
Fast bowler Thilan Thushara dispatched Ross Taylor -- who was dropped twice off spinner Ajantha Mendis before falling for 35 -- and bowled big-hitting Brendon McCullum (1) to leave the Black Caps teetering at 195-6.
Jacob Oram dug in for 12 before becoming Muralitharan's third victim -- and the veteran spinner's 773rd overall.
His fellow burly left-hander Ryder reined in his usual aggressive hitting to make his runs off 95 balls to help his team past the follow-on, hitting just four boundaries before being bowled by Nuwan Kulasekara from an inside edge.
Vettori had helped him add 36 for the eighth wicket, and will resume his 58-ball innings on Friday along with Iain O'Brien as the New Zealanders seek to bat for as long as possible.