A counter-attacking, unbeaten 73 by Kusal Mendis helped Sri Lanka dominate the morning session on the opening day of the first Test at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch, as the hosts headed to Lunch on 120 for 1. The Sri Lankan number 3 cracked 15 boundaries, bringing back memories of the way the recent tourists - England - played in the two-Test series.
Put in to bat, the Sri Lankan openers were tested against the new ball, and it was eventually a ball down the legside in the seventh over of the morning that Oshada Fernando clipped to the wicketkeeper. The early going was sedate as the visitors looked to tread a cautious path, managing only 27 runs in the first hour of play - through which they were consistently beaten, and even had an odd boundary that could well have been chopped back on to the stumps.
However, soon after the drinks break, Mendis took on the bowling attack. It began with two streaky boundaries off Matt Henry - one past the 'keeper and the other through the gully region. However, that wasn't to put him on the backfoot. Two balls later, he creamed a half volley through the cover region for a third boundary.
Even as the batters continued to be tested against the moving ball, two overs later, Mendis meteed out similar treatment to Southee - one lucky boundary followed by twp confident drives. As the batter went on the offensive, New Zealand bowlers lost their lengths and he capitalised on it. Dimuth Karunaratne, who was the more sedate partner in the stand, also cashed in on those errors and got moving after a slow start.
Neil Wagner's short-ball ploy didn't prove effective either as the left-arm pacer was also pulled for three boundaries in an over. Mendis brought up his half-century in only 40 balls with another boundary off Blair Tickner. None of the New Zealand pacers were spared of his onslaught, but Wagner in particular ended up conceding 30 runs from his first three overs.
Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 120/1 (Kusal Mendis 73*, Dimuth Karunaratne 33) vs New Zealand