COLOMBO - Rangana Herath overshadowed the illustrious Muttiah Muralitharan as Sri Lanka's spin attack ensured victory in the second cricket test against New Zealand is all but inevitable.

The unheralded left arm orthodox bowler spun Sri Lanka to success in the first test of last month's series against Pakistan in Galle - and he again displayed superb flight and guile at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground last night as New Zealand's unlikely bid to survive until close of play tonight is entirely weather dependent.

After being set 494 to square the series New Zealand were praying for rain when lurching to stumps on 182 for six on day four.

Jesse Ryder's (38) dismissal less than two overs before stumps underscored New Zealand's unwinnable position when he became Herath's fourth victim of an impressive, unchanged 21 over spell.

Jacob Oram (7) and captain Daniel Vettori (5) were left to stall Sri Lanka's victory march - a triumph that will complete a 2-0 series win and maintain their standing as the world's No 2-ranked test nation.

A borderline omission for New Zealand's own forlorn visit to Galle last week, Herath justified his recall at the expense of Ajantha Mendis by taking four for 73 - a provisional haul following his three for 70 in the tourists' first innings.

Herath removed opener Martin Guptill (28) with his first delivery and then claimed the in-form Ross Taylor for 28 during a disastrous session that saw New Zealand's middle order subside for the addition of 104 runs.

Daniel Flynn produced the only innings of substance, marking his first meaningful contribution of the series with a dogged half century - his fourth in tests.

However, that elusive maiden test ton remains elusive, a ball after minimal acknowledgement of his achievement in making it halfway Herath trapped him crease bound and plumb leg before wicket.

Flynn at least laboured for 93 balls, a task beyond his replacement Brendon McCullum.

New Zealand's vice-captain again looked unconvincing against Herath and Muralitharan mirroring his tortured first innings of 18.

Dropped twice in his first innings, McCullum had another reprieve when Thilara Thushara spilled a risky top edged slog sweep at deep mid wicket.

McCullum benefited from some over throws in the process but Muralitharan guaranteed his stay would be brief when he chopped on a top spinner to trudge off for 13.

Tim McIntosh triggered the start of another fragile batting display when the opener shouldered arms to Dammika Prasad and had his off-stump clipped on five.

Earlier during another day of complete Sri Lankan control captain Kumar Sangakkara (109) and his predecessor Mahela Jayawardene (96) accumulated their runs with an ease that should have been encouraging for New Zealand's strokemakers.

Sangakkara's resolute century at the SSC a month ago as Pakistan were pressing for a consolation victory in the third and final test also proved long-term crease occupation was possible when seeking to save a match.

Sri Lanka used 134 overs to thwart Pakistan, New Zealand are out of specialist batsmen by the 55th of their innings.

Sangakkara declared Sri Lanka's second innings at 311 for five after lunch and once he and Jayawardene set about inflating their 339-run overnight lead, New Zealand were condemned to settle for minor victories.

They secured one the ball before the declaration when Jayawardene was denied a history-making century for a second time in three days when he again failed to become the first cricketer to record 10 centuries on the same ground.

Jayawardene, who made 92 in the first innings, had safely progressed from 23 to 90 in the morning session, registering his 35th test half-century.

But his concentration finally lapsed four runs short of his 27th hundred when he edged seamer Iain O'Brien to Taylor at first slip.

Sangakarra, on 64 overnight, made light of Vettori's defensive field settings as he brought up three figures for the 20th time in tests from 164 balls.

- NZPA