Dunedin: Martin Guptill struck his third test century while Kane Williamson fell just short his 13th as New Zealand blunted Sri Lanka`s inexperienced bowling attack to set themselves up for a big total in the first test in Dunedin on Thursday.
Guptill was on 111 at the break, while Williamson was caught for 88 off the penultimate delivery before tea with the hosts well placed at 229 for two at University Oval after being asked to bat on a green pitch by Angelo Mathews.
The pair had combined for a 173-run partnership as they stymied any assistance the visitors had hoped to extract from the pitch and ground their attack down. It was a record second wicket partnership for New Zealand against Sri Lanka.
The 29-year-old Guptill, who had received a tacit warning about his position in the side after a poor run in the recent Australia series, brought up his century with a cover drive off Suranga Lakmal to record his 17th boundary.
Williamson, who has scored almost 1,000 test runs in 2015, never appeared troubled at the crease as he guided the ball around the field at will before he was well caught at slip by Dimuth Karunaratne off Nuwan Pradeep just before tea.
The pair had been brought together after about an hour of play with New Zealand on 56-1 after Tom Latham had been caught and bowled by Suranga Lakmal for 22.
Apart from a short spell when Rangana Herath and Dushmantha Chameera were bowling in tandem, New Zealand were rarely troubled by the Sri Lankan attack despite Mathews having little hesitation in asking Brendon McCullum`s side to bat after he won the toss.
Opening bowlers Lakmal and Pradeep, however, struggled to settle in their initial spells, affecting little swing despite pitching the ball up.
Latham and Guptill exuded confidence in their stroke-making ability against such docile bowling, with the pair punching five of the first seven boundaries down the ground as they raced to 38 without loss off seven overs.
Latham had moved effortlessly through to 22 after hitting Lakmal to deep mid-wicket for his third boundary, only to waste another solid start when he popped the next delivery back to the bowler.