Sri Lanka spinner Akila Dananjaya took his fourth five-wicket haul in Tests as New Zealand relied on veteran Ross Taylor to justify their decision to bat first in Galle.
At tea on day one at Galle, New Zealand were 5-179 with Dananjaya boasting impressive figures of 5-50 from 18.2 overs.
Taylor stemmed the bleeding for New Zealand with an unbeaten 70 after the tourists had struggled to 3-71 during Wednesday’s morning session.
Veteran Taylor found a valuable partner in Henry Nicholls as the pair posted 100 for the fourth wicket before the wily Dananjaya trapped the latter lbw for 42.
Wicketkeeper BJ Watling suffered the same mode of dismissal for a single leaving Taylor and allrounder Mitchell Santner to carry New Zealand towards 200.
Taylor registered his 31st Test half century after Dananjaya struck twice to remove opener Tom Latham (30) and skipper Kane Williamson for a duck in the same over late in the first session.
Earlier Latham and Jeet Raval had combined for a patient opening stand of 64 from 160 deliveries.
They negotiated seam bowlers Suranga Lakmal and Lahiru Kumara well and also, for the most part, the three Sri Lankan spinners who were assisted by early bounce.
Latham’s 88-ball vigil ended when he edged to recalled wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella.
Williamson exited three balls later when he pushed a delivery uppishly to Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne at short midwicket.
Raval (33) was the third casualty of the morning session when he edged to Dhananjaya de Silva at slip.
This is the first match for both teams in the World Test Championship, and New Zealand also picked three spin bowlers – Santner, Will Somerville and Ajaz Patel -in the expectation of the wicket turning appreciably.