WELLINGTON - Sri Lanka might have recovered from a dangerous position of 9/3 to post 275/9 on the opening day of the Wellington Test against New Zealand, but Tim Southee believes that is good news for the home batsmen.

Southee claimed his eighth five-wicket haul in Tests at the Basin Reserve on Saturday, 15 December, but with half-centuries from Dimuth Karunaratne, Angelo Mathews and Niroshan Dickwella, Sri Lanka managed to steer clear of danger.

That, Southee said, had much to do with the fact that the pitch became easier to bat on once the batsmen settled in. “Once Mathews and Karunaratne got in, they played nicely after losing three early,” Southee said.

“What our batsmen will take out of it is that when you get in it can look reasonably easy. Dickwella’s come out and played aggressively, and he’s played a gem of an innings so far for them. It was a frustrating one for us. But we can turn up tomorrow and try and get that last wicket as quick as possible, and hopefully our batsmen can get stuck in.”

The five-for was Southee’s first at the Basin Reserve and the bowler said there wasn’t a phase during the day when things were easy. “It’s nice to get some wickets – the key here at the Basin, especially on day one, is to try and pitch it up. “It did swing for the majority of the day, but sometimes it doesn’t do as much as people think it’s going to do, and we saw that. Once a couple of guys got in, it was tough work.” A feature of Southee’s spell was a barrage of short-pitched deliveries, but credited to Neil Wagner for that.

“It was nipping around and swinging early on, but there was a bit of a dull period and we knew we needed to try something different,” said Southee. “I don’t think I could bowl short balls for 10 overs at a time like Waggy does. He’s phenomenal at it. Some would say mad. But at the time we needed something different and it did kind of work today.”