Honours even at Galle
An intriguing Test was set up in Galle, where Sri Lanka and New Zealand repeatedly swapped the initiative on day two of the series opener.
Resuming on nine for one in response to the Black Caps’ 221, the hosts endured a miserable start and quickly slipped to 50 for five in the face of fine bowling from Tim Southee - who claimed 4-46.
Yet skipper Mahela Jayawardene and Angelo Mathews responded outstandingly in a 156-run stand that appeared set to put Sri Lanka in control.
New Zealand roared back, however, removing the latter for 79 and former on 91 before eventually dismissing Sri Lanka for just 247.
The tourists, having surrendered a lead of 26, reached 35 for one second time round as Brendon McCullum pulled Rangana Herath, who claimed five wickets in the first innings, to deep square-leg attempting to repeat his six earlier in the over.
Southee, who removed debutant Dimuth Karunaratne late yesterday, picked up where he left off as New Zealand got off to a fantastic start.
The swing bowler initially lured a false stroke from Tharanga Paranavitana, who played on, before nightwatchman Suraj Randiv edged to slip having been dropped off the previous delivery.
Trent Boult then got in on the act with the prized wicket of Kumar Sangakkara, who edged an outswinger to McCullum at third slip.
Unwilling to be outdone, Southee then delivered another crushing blow as Sri Lanka’s plight worsened, nipping one back to trap Thilan Samaraweera, who offered no shot, in front.
Jayawardene and Mathews have previously shown an aptitude for delivering under pressure, though - and so it proved once again.
Mixing the odd flashy stroke with the usual array of dabs and deflections that have been so prominent throughout his distinguished career, Jayawardene progressed serenely in a manner that belied his colleagues’ struggles.
Mathews, meanwhile, batted with significantly more gusto, driving powerfully and finding his only maximum when slog-sweeping Jeetan Patel.
For all intents and purposes, it appeared the partnership would turn the game - only for New Zealand to hit back impressively after Mathews - driving - nicked James Franklin behind.
Patel followed that up with the key scalp of Jayawardene, who surprisingly gave his wicket away as he was caught in the deep slogging.
Dented by the loss of their skipper, Sri Lanka’s tail folded.
Prasanna Jayawardene’s attempted sweep off Patel went awry as the ball caught his glove and was caught by wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk.
The off-spinner grabbed a third wicket when Nuwan Kulasekara gifted him a simple return catch and Boult wrapped up proceedings when Shaminda Eranga failed to clear mid-on.