New Zealand make watchful start
Lunch New Zealand 61 for 0 (James Marshall 24*, Hamish Marshall 14*, Vaas 1-19) v Sri Lanka
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details
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The tsunami-postponed Test series started with a battling first session after New Zealand, relieved to have waved goodbye to Ricky Ponting's formidable Australian team, made a watchful start with the bat after winning the toss. Sri Lanka's bowlers, still missing their injured talisman Muttiah Muralitharan, probed away accurately and both teams left the field for lunch satisfied as New Zealand reached 61 for 1.
The only casualty of the morning was Craig Cumming (12) as Chaminda Vaas, swinging the ball a smidgen and cleverly working the angles, zeroed in on a perceived susceptibility to being trapped lbw after a difficult series against Australia. Eventually, Vaas, having changed ends to bowl into a fresh breeze, landed a perfectly pitched full-length inswinger that would have curved into middle-and-off stump (35 for 1).
Sri Lanka could have earlier claimed the wicket of James Marshall, as Sanath Jayasuriyia, partially obstructed by a flailing dive from wicket-keeper Kumar Sangakkara, grassed a straightforward chance at first slip off an attempted forcing stroke in Nuwan Kulasekera's first over of Test cricket. James Marshall capitalised on the reprieve, resisting Sri Lanka's bowlers until lunch and finishing on 24 not out.
All three of Sri Lanka's seamers bowled well, maintaining a tight line and length and forcing the Marshall Brothers to graft hard for their runs. Vaas created question-marks with his inswing, Kulasekera bounced in with refreshing enthusiasm and nipped the ball in, and Lasith Malinga always threatened to take a wicket with his remarkable science-defying catapult action, generating bounce and pace and very nearly finding the shoulder of Hamish Marshall's bat with a nasty lifter just before lunch.
Before the start, New Zealand confirmed the call-up of allrounder Kyle Mills, who replaced Daniel Vettori who decided to rest a sore back. Vettori wasn't New Zealand's only injury problem either with Scott Styris (knee), Jacob Oram (back), Ian Butler (back), Darryl Tuffey (bicep) and Michael Papps (finger) all unavailable for the two-Test series. Sri Lanka also have injury problems with Murali and Nuwan Zoysa both recovering from surgery.
Sri Lanka, who have fond memories of McLean Park in Napier having won their first-ever Test outside the subcontinent at the same venue back in 1995, were positive in their selection, resisting the safe option of selecting seven frontline batsman so they could play five bowlers, including two spinners. Shantha Kalavitigoda, Farveez Maharoof and Ruchira Perera were the players omitted from the touring party.
New Zealand team: 1 James Marshall, 2 Craig Cumming, 3 Stephen Fleming (capt), 4 Nathan Astle, 5 Hamish Marshall, 6 Lou Vincent, 7 Brendon McCullum, 8 Kyle Mills, 9 Paul Wiseman, 10 James Franklin, 11 Chris Martin
Sri Lanka team: 1 Marvan Atapattu, 2 Sanath Jayasuriya, 3 Kumar Sangakkara, 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Thilan Samaraweera, 6 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 7 Upul Chandana, 8 Chaminda Vaas, 9 Rangana Herath, 10 Nuwan Kulasekera, 11 Lasith Malinga.