Fifteen wickets fell in a bowlers' blitz Saturday as Sri Lanka ended the first day of the second Test in Wellington at 78-5 in reply to New Zealand's first innings 221.
Sri Lanka's response in their attempt to level the series after an eight wicket drubbing in the first Test has been highlighted by Kumar Sangakkara becoming just the fifth player in cricket history to post 12,000 career runs.
New Zealand's innings was rocked by batting hero Brendon McCullum's second-ball duck.
At stumps Sangakkara was 33 not out while recalled New Zealand paceman Doug Bracewell had three for 23.
Bracewell, who was only added to the side after New Zealand viewed the pitch and weather in the morning, believed the home side have the upper hand.
"Looking at where we've got them, 220 looks alright. We're definitely satisfied with how we finished the day," he said, adding he expected the wicket to speed up.
"Usually when there's a bit of grass on it, day two and day three it begins to harden up and get a bit quicker."
With conditions ripe for bowlers, Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews had no hesitation in making New Zealand bat first on a green strip with overcast skies and a blustery wind.
New ball bowlers Nuwan Pradeep and Suranga Lakmal wasted the advantage in the first session, bowling short and wide, but still managed to remove New Zealand openers Tom Latham for six and Hamish Rutherford for 37.
But the game changed as they pitched the ball up more in the middle session when five New Zealand wickets fell, while the last three New Zealand wickets and five top Sri Lankans were removed after tea.
First Test centurion Dimuth Karunaratne (16) was first to go for Sri Lanka when he was lured into chasing a ball that moved off the seam and edged a comfortable catch to Jimmy Neesham in the slips.
Kaushal Silva, in a cautious start, faced 30 deliveries before he played on Doug Bracewell for five.
Bracewell, recalled to the side in place of Neil Wagner, followed with the dismissal of Lahiru Thirimanne who lobbed a simple catch to Brendon McCullum at mid off without scoring.
Mathews, Sri Lanka's rock with two half centuries in Christchurch, could only manage 15 before he was squared up by Tim Southee and edged the ball to wicketkeeper BJ Watling.
Prasanna Jayawardene gave Bracewell his third wicket when he was caught off the last ball of the day for six.
As the wickets fell at one end Sangakkara proved an unshakeable force at the other as he easily knocked off the five runs he required to reach 12,000 and cruised through another 28 runs before stumps.
The prolific 37-year-old left-hander has an impressive average of more than 58.00, including 37 centuries in 130 Tests. His highest score was 319 against Bangladesh.
Although fifth on the all-time scoring list, the players ahead of him have all retired including Indian great Sachin Tendulkar who tops the ranking with 15,921.
New Zealand made a bright start to the day, reaching 141-2 before the Sri Lankan bowlers found how best to utilise the conditions and the last eight wickets fell for 80.
McCullum's return to the scene of his greatest triumph, a New Zealand record 302 knock against India last February, only lasted two deliveries.
He had been feted on his return to Wellington and was presented with the keys to the city during a lunch-break ceremony.
But this time there was to be no marathon session in the middle, nor a replay of the rollicking 195 he blasted in a shade over two hours in the first Test against Sri Lanka in Christchurch.
He received a heroes welcome as he strode to the middle eight overs after lunch, played at two deliveries and returned to the shed after chopping a fuller ball from Suranga Lakmal onto the stumps.
Kane Williamson, with 69 and Ross Taylor who made 35 propped up the New Zealand innings with a 79 run stand for the third wicket.
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A week earlier the Caribbean side batted through the last day at the same venue to ensure a draw after being set 375 to win.
Set a daunting target of 377 and resuming at 29 without loss, the tourists reached 193 for two with a tops score of 75 by captain Dimuth Karunaratne and an unbeaten 66 by Oshada Fernando leading the resistance.