1st Test: Sri Lanka 73/3 at lunch after Tim Southee’s early strikes
Tim Southee nipped out three Sri Lankan wickets before lunch. ©AFP

New Zealand‘s Tim Southee tore through Sri Lanka‘s top order to leave the tourists reeling at nine for three in the opening spell of the first Test at Wellington’s Basin Reserve on Saturday.

The Black Caps’ decision to bowl on a green pitch after winning the toss paid immediate dividends as Southee claimed three quick wickets.

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Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal said before the match that he wanted his top order to survive the first hour and see off the new ball but the wickets began to tumble in just the second over.

Danushka Gunathilaka was Southee’s first victim, out lbw for one after failing to deal with a late inswinger. Dhananjaya de Silva then edged through to the keeper for the same score and a clearly rattled Kusal Mendis only managed to reach two before hitting a simple catch to Ajaz Patel at midwicket.

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Dimuth Karunaratne and Angelo Mathews set about trying to rebuild the innings but looked far from comfortable as the tourists reached 32 for three after the first hour.

Sri Lanka, ranked sixth in the world, have lost their last five Tests against New Zealand and suffered a 3-0 Test series whitewash against England last month.

They have faced upheaval in their coaching and selection ranks in recent weeks and arrived in New Zealand low on confidence.

In contrast, the fourth-ranked Black Caps enter the two-match contest buoyed by their first away Test series win over Pakistan in 49 years last week.