The opening test between the Blackcaps and Sri Lanka is delicately balanced at stumps on day one, after late wickets brought the hosts back into the contest in Christchurch.
The New Zealanders claimed three wickets after tea to stifle the tourists’ momentum, after a fast start had the tourists firmly in the box seat.
Sri Lanka finished the day at 305/6, with Dhananjaya de Silva (39no) and Kasun Rajitha (16no) holding strong late against some underwhelming NZ bowling to ensure their side could stake a reasonable claim for day one honours.
Captain Tim Southee was the best of the Kiwi bowlers, finishing with 3/44 from 18 overs, and in the process overtaking Daniel Vettori on the list of all-time test wicket takers for New Zealand (362).
He also surpassed Vettori for most wickets across all three international formats (706).
In the opening session of the day, the Blackcaps had to toil hard in the face of an aggressive Sri Lanka batting outfit.
After being sent into bat, the tourists raced to 120/1 at lunch – a total that included 21 boundaries.
Oshada Fernando was the sole wicket to fall in the opening session, chasing after a wide delivery by Tim Southee down leg and tickling a catch through to wicketkeeper Tom Blundell with the score at 14.
the visitors lost established batters Kusal Mendis (87) and Dimuth Karunaratne (50) in consecutive Southee and Henry overs after lunch, stemming the flood of runs from the morning session.
Dangerman Mendis paid the price for not offering a shot to a Southee delivery that nipped back off the seam, trapped LBW for 87 off 83 balls, to end a 137-run second-wicket stand.
Moments after he’d raised his half century and just two balls after Mendis had departed, opener Dimuth Karunaratne was caught in the slips by Tom Latham attempting to drive to hand Matt Henry his first wicket of the match.
Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal dug in to rebuild their side’s foundation, carrying their bats into tea with their score at 209/3.
After winning the toss and electing to bowl first, the green surface prompted New Zealand to recall fast bowler Blair Tickner, with Will Young dropping out of the XI in the only change from their historic one-run over England at the Basin Reserve.
Unlike the Blackcaps, the visitors are still in contention for the World Test Championship, with a 2-0 series win needed if they are a chance to make the final.
Sri Lanka 305/6 after 75 overs (Mendis 87, Karunaratne 50, Mathews 47, Chandimal 39, Dhananjaya de Silva 39no; Southee 3/44)