Sri Lanka may have recovered well after they had been gasping at 9 for 3 early in the day, but New Zealand's own batsmen might not be disappointed at how this Basin Reserve pitch is playing. Those were the thoughts of Tim Southee, who claimed figures of 5 for 67 and was the architect of Sri Lanka's early wobble, taking three wickets in his first two overs.
Once batsmen got in though, it was possible for them to succeed. Dimuth Karunaratne and Angelo Mathews, for example, put on a 133-run partnership for the fourth wicket. Niroshan Dickwella made 73 not out off 91 balls towards the end of the day, which Sri Lanka ended on 275 for 9.
"Once Mathews and Karunaratne got in they played nicely after losing three early," Southee said. "What our batsmen will take out of it is that when you get in it can look reasonably easy. Dickwella's come out and played aggressively, and he's played a gem of an innings so far for them. It was a frustrating one for us. But we can turn up tomorrow and try and get that last wicket as quick as possible, and hopefully our batsmen can get stuck in."
This was Southee's first ever five-wicket haul at the Basin Reserve, and the eighth in his career overall. Sri Lanka happen to be among his favourite opponents. He now has 38 wickets against them at an average of 17.92.
"It's nice to get some wickets - the key here at the Basin especially on day one is to try and pitch it up," he said. "It did swing for the majority of the day, but sometimes it doesn't do as much as people think it's going to do and we saw that. Once a couple of guys got in, it was tough work."
Though Southee's first three wickets were a result of seam and swing - he nailed left-hander Danushka Gunathilaka in front of the stumps with a straightening delivery, had Dhananjaya de Silva nicking off, and then had Kusal Mendis caught at short midwicket - his wickets later in the day came from bouncers. Southee had Dinesh Chandimal holing out to deep square leg before dismissing Angelo Mathews with a chest-high delivery that the batsman top-edged to the wicketkeeper.
Typically, it had been Neil Wagner who first attempted the short-ball attack, but when Southee followed suit it was he who gleaned the greater rewards.
"It was nipping around and swinging early on, but there was a bit of a dull period and we knew we needed to try something different. I don't think I could bowl short balls for 10 overs at a time like Waggy does. He's phenomenal at it. Some would say mad. But at the time we needed something different and it did kind of work today."