Wickets tumble, but NZ rack up 409
New Zealand 409 for 8 (Guptill 156, Williamson 88, McCullum 75) v Sri Lanka
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The two batsmen who struggled most during New Zealand's recent tour of Australia rediscovered their form on the first day of the home summer in Dunedin: Martin Guptill made his third Test hundred, his first in 40 innings since November 2011, and then Brendon McCullum raced to a bruising half-century.
The bridge between those innings was Kane Williamson, who made his 88 look effortless against wayward bowling. Guptill added 173 runs for the second wicket with Williamson, to build on his half-century opening stand with Tom Latham, and then he watched McCullum blitz 75 off 57 balls in a partnership of 89 for the fourth wicket. New Zealand's run rate of 4.54 ensured they held the edge at stumps, though Sri Lanka took six wickets after tea to significantly redress the imbalance.
Angelo Mathews had chosen to bowl on a sunny morning at University Oval, to give his seamers first use of any assistance in the pitch, and perhaps to protect his inexperienced batsmen from the potent swing of Tim Southee and Trent Boult, the leaders of New Zealand's four-pronged pace attack in this Test. Having lost Dhammika Prasad to an injury and Kusal Perera to a banned substance, Sri Lanka had three raw batsmen in their XI - opener Udara Jayasundera was making a debut, 20-year old batsman Kusal Mendis was playing his second Test, and allrounder Milinda Siriwardana his third.
In their futile search for seam and swing, the new-ball bowlers pitched too full, and after a maiden over to begin from Suranga Lakmal, there were a flurry of straight drives, both openers using the vertical bat to guard against any lateral movement. Guptill was strong off the pads too, flicking through square leg for boundaries, and New Zealand racked up 51 in the first hour. Latham fell soon after - caught and bowled on the second attempt by Lakmal - but that made barely a dent in the home team's progress.
Williamson's first ball was on the pads from Nuwan Pradeep and he glanced for four, before pouncing on width offered by Lakmal to punch and cut either side of point. He had three fours in his first 15 deliveries. He punished width from Mathews and Dushmantha Chameera too, cutting with confidence to collect three more fours in his next 15 balls. When the delivery demanded it though, Williamson left outside off and was solid in defence.
Guptill also attacked Chameera when the 23-year old quick offered width, slapping a short one through point and flaying a fuller one through cover in the same over. He got to his half-century off 74 balls. New Zealand went to lunch on 114 for 1 in 27 overs, and the pace did not abate after the break. They scored 61 in the next hour. Mathews brought on his experienced fast bowlers again but Lakmal and Pradeep were loose. The pitch had a tinge of green on it but offered no lateral movement. Guptill passed 2000 Test runs in his 38th match - the sixth slowest for New Zealand - with a cut off Pradeep, and Williamson steered him between two gullies twice to get to his half-century off 53 balls.
When Mathews turned to spin, Guptill stepped out and lofted Rangana Herath to the long-on boundary to not let him settle, and later slapped two short and wide offerings fiercely through cover. The only uncertain moments Guptill faced were during a brief surge of pace from Chameera, when he survived two lbw appeals in the 39th over. The second not-out decision would have been overturned had Mathews chosen to use the DRS. Guptill shrugged that off and was soon celebrating a hundred off 147 balls.
Williamson was also purring towards a hundred before he fell in the last over before tea, edging a short and wide ball from Pradeep to slip, entirely against the run of play. Sri Lanka had their foot in the door when Ross Taylor was lbw cheaply to Pradeep after tea, but McCullum slammed the door on it.
Playing his 98th consecutive Test since his debut - a record he shares with AB de Villiers - McCullum scored three off his first 11 balls before treating the small crowd to unrestrained use of his scything blade. No matter who bowled at him, McCullum attacked: he slashed, charged, slogged, hooked, upper-cut and drove to a half-century off 39 balls. Often the boundaries came in clusters of two and three, and Sri Lanka were in danger on conceding close to 500.
McCullum fell top-edging a slog off the spinner Siriwardana, and his dismissal led to a spate of wickets. Chameera struck in his last over with the old ball and in his first with the new: bowling above 140kph, he drew edges from Mitchell Santner and BJ Watling during a spell that was more hostile that any of his previous ones.
Guptill did not survive the day either, edging a Mathews delivery that seamed away, but New Zealand had Doug Bracewell, who had batted impressively in the day-night Test in Adelaide, counterattacking once again. His unbeaten 32 off 39 balls took New Zealand past 400, a total their seamers will be thrilled with on a surface that was beginning to exhibit more bounce late in the day.
George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo