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Daniel Vettori has said his team fought well to dismiss Sri Lanka for 452 but the real test was to back that with a good batting performance.
New Zealand fought back through the spin and pace combination of Vettori and Chris Martin who shared eight wickets between them to dismiss the final six Sri Lankan batsmen for 66 runs after the home team had started the day at 293 for 3.
"From where we were yesterday the big thing for us is that everyone showed some fight today to put ourselves in a position where we really couldn't have asked for too much [more]," Vettori said. "The real key for New Zealand is to back that up with a good performance with the bat."
He said New Zealand needed to bowl well in pairs if they are to restrict the home side's batsmen. "Because we were leaking runs at the other end the Sri Lankan batsmen were able to play me out and not have to take so many risks," he said. "The hardest thing was trying to get Chris and me bowling together because we both wanted the same end. The key to bowling (in the rest of the series) is (getting) the rest of the bowlers to support Chris and myself and just bowl in tandem."
The big wicket of Mahela Jayawardene, resuming from 108*, in the second over of the day boosted New Zealand's confidence. "Mahela is such a disciplined batsman he doesn't take any risks. He knows these sorts of grounds and bats so well," Vettori said. "He showed the discipline and maturity you need to score in this part of the world. For us to get him so early gave the team a little bit of lift particularly with the new ball around the corner."
New Zealand ended the second day at 87 for 2 and Vettori said the most pleasing thing was how well his batsmen played the Sri Lankan bowlers. "It is always going to be difficult for a lot of their guys coming up against bowlers they have never seen before. Sometimes when New Zealand teams are facing quality spin bowling they can be a bit jittery but there was good confidence (on display) here. I thought [Tim] McIntosh, [Daniel] Flynn and [Martin] Guptill, for the short time he was there, looked like they were in control. It's a good sign for us."
However, with New Zealand still trailing by 365 runs, Vettori said the home side still held the edge. "Sri Lanka is obviously in front with the quality of their bowling line-up. [Thilan] Thushara bowled exceptionally well today. We know we got a lot of work to do in the morning. [Jeetan] Patel's a good player of spin if he can stick around for a while with McIntosh they can set up something for us."
Vettori said that Jacob Oram could not take the field the whole day because he was ill but would be fit to bat if needed on Thursday.