Sri Lanka appeared set to bat out a rain-affected draw in the first Test against New Zealand on Wednesday as the covers came on for the second time in the final day’s play.

Heavy rain returned to cut short the morning session after 13 overs with Kusal Mendis unbeaten on 141 and Angelo Mathews 120 not out in a record 274-run stand as Sri Lanka went into an early lunch break at 287 for three.

Sri Lanka still need nine runs to avoid an innings defeat but a draw was the most likely outcome under leaden skies at the Basin Reserve.