Ross Taylor has a break during his innings of 86 not out. – AFP
Winning the toss and batting first on a surprisingly bright and sunny morning compared to the gloom of the previous day, New Zealand reached 203 for five wickets off 68 overs before the heavens opened out and ended play for the day.
New Zealand would not have come thus far had it not been for their most experienced batter Ross Taylor who blunted the threat posed by Dananjaya to remain unbeaten on a workmanlike knock of 86 not out scored off 131 balls inclusive of six fours.
Dananjaya who had his bowling action remodelled caused two mini collapses in the New Zealand innings at the stroke of lunch and tea.
New Zealand were quietly cruising at 64 without loss when he made the initial breakthrough by having Tom Latham caught behind the wicket by Niroshan Dickwella for 30.
Three balls later New Zealand skipper and bedrock of their batting Kane Williamson was walking back to the dressing room popping a catch to his vis-a-vis Dimuth Karunaratne at short mid wicket as he attempted to get off the mark with a flick off his leg.
Dananjaya made the first session belong to Sri Lanka when he found the edge of Jeet Raval’s bat and Dhananjaya de Silva pulled off a good catch at slip in the last over before the lunch break. Raval had batted almost the entire first session for 33.
Taylor and Henry Nicholls set about rebuilding the innings in the afternoon session and the pair added exactly 100 for the fourth wicket using their feet to the spinners before Dananajaya again came on to spoil things for the Black Caps.
He first broke the threatening partnership by trapping Nicholls on the sweep for 42 and followed it up with the wicket of BJ Watling playing a similar stroke and perishing in the same manner for one in the final over before tea,
Mitchell Santner no mug with the bat - he has a Test average of 25.47 and two fifties was unbeaten on eight and New Zealand with Taylor batting well will look to push their total beyond the 300-run mark as they have plenty of batting to come from the likes of Tim Southee (5 Test fifties) and Trent Boult (1 Test fifty).
Taylor is the key to New Zealand getting to a total which they can be comfortable with, for as long as he is there partnerships will be built around him. He was harsh on left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya who went wicketless conceding 73 runs off his 20 overs with seven of the 15 fours scored during the day coming off his bowling.
Sri Lanka spinner Akila Dananjaya is congratulated by team mates as he snares another New Zealand wicket on the first day of the first cricket Test at the Galle International Stadium yesterday. - AFP
Embuldeniya suffered an injury during the second Test against South Africa at Port Elizabeth in February dislocating the thumb of his left bowling hand, and although he has recovered from it the question remains whether that injury had any psychological effect on his bowling.
Sri Lanka on the other hand would look to pick up the remaining five wickets as quickly as they can and tuck some runs under their belt while the pitch is still good for batting.
The ball spun but slowly off the surface with the odd bounce that could create doubts in the minds of the batsmen.
The Test is part of the World Test Championship and carries 60 points to the winner, 20 points for a draw and 30 points for a tie in a two-Test series.