Colombo: Ross Taylor cracked an unbeaten 119 and Kane Williamson was approaching a third Test century as the pair salvaged New Zealand's poor start against Sri Lanka to reach a comfortable 223 for two at stumps on the opening day of the second cricket Test on Sunday.
They added an unbroken 209-run partnership for the third wicket after New Zealand lost two wickets for 14 runs after winning the toss and electing to bat at P. Sara Oval. Taylor's eighth century included 10 boundaries and came off 241 deliveries. Williamson faced 229 balls and hit eight fours.
Opener Martin Guptill was out first in the first over of the match when he edged a Nuwan Kulasekara ball to Angelo Mathews at slip. Brendon McCullum was trapped lbw by Shaminda Eranga in the fourth over. Seamer Nuwan Kulasekara returned 1 for 42.
After losing the first Test in Galle last week by 10 wickets, New Zealand must win this final Test to level the series. They are also under pressure to avoid losing their six straight Test this year, having lost one to South Africa and two each against the West Indies and India.
The Kiwis dropped seam bowling allrounder James Franklin to hand a first Test cap to Todd Astle, also an allrounder who bowls legspin. Astle has more than 2,000 runs and 129 wickets in first-class cricket.