DUNEDIN (New Zealand): A crucial double breakthrough before lunch set New Zealand on course to a 122-run win over Sri Lanka in the first test at the University Oval on Monday, and a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.
Sri Lanka resumed on an extended final day at 109-3, needing 296 to win with seven wickets in hand at an achievable run rate of only three runs per over.
For much of the morning session, the visitors appeared capable of pulling off the fourth-highest successful fourth-inning run chase in test history, but the dismissal of Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal in quick succession tipped the match decisively in New Zealand's favor.
The Black Caps were then able to run through the tail-enders quickly in the afternoon session. The second test begins at Hamilton on Thursday.
"Overall a very professional performance and one we're really pleased with," said New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, who made a bold declaration of the second innings which gave Sri Lanka a glimmer of hope.
"Sometimes you've got to risk losing to win and we felt we needed enough time to bowl Sri Lanka out.
"If the weather had come into play a little bit more on Monday we would have desperately needed that extra time. We had a bit of an eye to that and in the end the bowlers did the job as well, and the way they went about it was outstanding."
Chandimal made 58 and Mathews 25 in a 56-run partnership for the fourth wicket.
While they were together there seemed hope for Sri Lanka. The batsmen were comfortable through a morning session on a pitch rapidly losing pace and bounce but not yet offering assistance to the spinners.
Mathews was undone by some clever tactics from Neil Wagner. New Zealand's fourth seamer delivered two short-pitched balls outside leg stump which Sri Lanka's captain left alone, followed by a yorker, angled in from around the wicket.
Mathews appeared to try to block the ball with his pad, but stepped over the delivery which struck the inside of his front pad and cannoned onto middle stump.
Chandimal padded away a delivery from left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner which pitched on off stump and seemed to be going straight through. The umpire gave him out lbw and while Chandimal referred the decision to the third umpire, it was confirmed because he was not offering a shot and the ball would have hit the stumps.
From that moment, it appeared only a matter of time before New Zealand wrapped up the victory against a rebuilding Sri Lanka which paid for its lack of experience.
"We fought really hard but I'm a little bit disappointed with the way we played at times," Mathews said. "In the first innings the way we bowled on that wicket, especially because there was a lot of grass on it and after winning the toss, I expected a little bit more from the bowlers.
"Unfortunately New Zealand got off to a flier and once they got to 430 we had to bat really well and, especially in the first innings, we were way too cautious."
New Zealand set up its win when it made 431 in the first innings after losing the toss and being sent in on a well-grassed wicket, Martin Guptill top-scoring with 156. It reached 409-8 by the end of the first day, scoring at more than 4.5 runs per over, and the pace at which it scored contributed to a win which was briefly threatened by rain which shortened the fourth day.
New Zealand bowled out Sri Lanka for 294 to take a 137-run first innings lead, then swiftly built on that by reaching 267-3 in its second innings before McCullum declared before lunch on the fourth day. Tom Latham made an unbeaten 109, his third test century and his first on home soil.
New Zealand 1st innings: 431 (Martin Guptill 156, Kane Williamson 88, Brendon McCullum 75; Nuwan Pradeep 4/112).
Sri Lanka 1st innings: 294 (Dimuth Karunaratne 84, Dinesh Chandimal 83; Tim Southee 3/71, Neil Wagner 3/87).
New Zealand 2nd innings: 267 for 3 declared (Tom Latham 109 not out, Kane Williamson 71; Rangana Herath 2/62).
Sri Lanka 2nd innings: 282 (Dinesh Chandimal 58; Tim Southee 3/52).