Dilshan, Jayawardene lead Lanka innings
GALLE: Tillakaratne Dilshan smashed 92 off 72 balls in his new role as opener as Sri Lanka hit back after early shocks in the first Test against New Zealand on Tuesday.
Sri Lanka, sent in to bat by New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori under overcast conditions, slipped to 16-2 before Dilshan's belligerent knock steered the hosts to 212-3 by tea on the opening day.
Dilshan, who hit 12 boundaries and a six, hit the fastest Test half-century by a Sri Lankan off 30 balls, upstaging former captain Arjuna Ranatunga's 31-ball effort against India at Kanpur in 1986.
Mahela Jayawardene, who was unbeaten on 76 at tea, joined the rescue act by adding 118 for the third wicket with Dilshan and 78 for the undefeated fourth with Thilan Samaraweera (35 not out).
The start of the Test was delayed by 90 minutes due to early morning rain, although the pitch and outfield at the Galle International Stadium were unaffected under the covers.
Umpires Daryl Harper and Nigel Llong pushed back the lunch break by an hour to make up for lost time.
Seamer Chris Martin provided a dramatic start when he had Tharanga Paranavitana, Dilshan's fellow opener, edging the third ball of the match to wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum.
Martin also removed Kumar Sangakkara for eight, the Sri Lankan captain flicking a half-volley to the mid-wicket fielder after hitting two boundaries in the same over.
Dilshan, who has batted in the middle order in all of his previous 55 Tests, was promoted to open the batting in order to accommodate fit-again 'keeper Prasanna Jayawardene.
The right-hander hit eight fours and a six by the time he reached 51 in the 11th over in Sri Lanka's total of 67-2.
Seamer Iain O'Brien, who bore the brunt of Dilshan's assault and conceded 55 runs in his first six overs, denied the batsman his ninth Test century by bowling him off the inside edge soon after lunch.
The Black Caps will play two Tests, two Twenty20 internationals and a limited-overs tri-series also featuring India during the five-week tour.
Sri Lanka 1st innings
T. Paranavitana c McCullum b Martin 0
T. Dilshan b O'Brien 92
K. Sangakkara c Flynn b Martin 8
M. Jayawardene not out 76
T. Samaraweera not out 35
Extras lb1 1
Total for 3 wkts, 54 overs 212
Angelo Mathews, Prasanna Jayawardene, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis, Thilan Thushara, Nuwan Kulasekara
Fall of wkts 1-0, 2-16, 3-134
Bowling Martin 11-1-46-2, O'Brien 9-0-67-1, Oram 7-1-25-0, Vettori 16-3-31-0, Patel 11-0-42-0
Toss New Zealand