<span class="focusParagraph articleLocation”>Martin Guptill shook off his recent run of poor form to anchor New Zealand’s innings as they negotiated a potentially tricky opening session of the first test against Sri Lanka to reach 114 for one at lunch at University Oval in Dunedin on Thursday.
Guptill, who scored 82 runs at 13.66 in his six test innings in Australia last month, found the Sri Lankan pace attack more to his liking as he advanced to 53 not out after his side had been asked to bat by Angelo Mathews.
The 29-year-old Guptill brought up his 15th test half century with his 11th boundary backward of point when Mathews got a delivery to pop on him to produce his only false stroke of the first session.
Kane Williamson was on 32 at lunch and rarely looked troubled in his 45 minutes at the crease after he replaced Tom Latham, who had been caught and bowled by Suranga Lakmal for 22.
Mathews had little hesitation in asking Brendon McCullum’s side to bat after he won the toss, given the bowler-friendly conditions on offer with the Sri Lankan captain eager to exploit the grassy wicket.
Opening bowlers Lakmal and Nuwan Pradeep, however, struggled to settle in their initial spells, affecting little swing despite pitching the ball up.
Such was the surety that Latham and Guptill were able to play the ball, they punched five of the first seven boundaries down the ground as they raced to 38 without loss off seven overs, forcing Mathews to bring himself into the attack.
The Sri Lankan captain managed to bring the run rate down with a nagging line just back of a length with 14 runs coming off the next seven overs when they took drinks.
Latham had moved through to 22 after hitting Lakmal to deep midwicket for his third boundary, his fifth solid start in his last seven innings, only to pop the next delivery back to the bowler.
Lakmal initially juggled the ball but managed to press it against his waist and take the caught and bowled opportunity to leave the hosts on 56-1.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by John O’Brien)