Sri Lanka's Angelo Mathews plays a shot during day five of the first Test cricket match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on December 19, 2018. Image Credit: AFP

Wellington: Play began after a rain delay on the final day of the first Test between New Zealand and Sri Lanka Wednesday, with the tourists hoping to bat out a draw.

Sri Lanka had been facing an innings defeat before Angelo Mathews and Kusal Mendis batted the whole of day four in a record stand that remained unbroken on day five at 252 runs.

Sri Lanka were 265 for three and still required 31 to make New Zealand bat again mid-way through the shortened opening session.

The unbeaten pair of Mendis on 120 and Mathews on 119 were looking comfortable at the crease and further heavy rain was forecast later in the day.

New Zealand will view the Test as a missed opportunity if it ends in a draw after they amassed a mammoth 578 in the first innings, anchored by Tom Latham's unbeaten 264.

After taking a hefty first-innings lead, the hosts reduced Sri Lanka to 13 for three in their second dig before Mendis and Mathews' epic partnership stopped their momentum in its tracks.

It was the first time in New Zealand that a full day's play has been completed without a Test wicket falling, and the first time anywhere since South Africa achieved the feat against Bangladesh in Chittagong in 2008.