SUNDAY TIMES WEB DESK: Suranga Lakmal and Tim Southee vied for early honours as 14 wickets fell to leave the deciding second Test between New Zealand and Sri Lanka evenly poised on day one in Christchurch on Wednesday.

“The first session (on Thursday) will be important for both teams,” Southee said at the end of a day in which he top-scored for New Zealand with 68 and then took three quick Sri Lankan wickets.

After Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to bowl, Lakmal produced a career-best five for 54 as New Zealand crumbled and were all out for 178 in 50 overs.

At stumps, Sri Lanka were 88 for four in reply with Angelo Mathews not out 27 and Roshen Silva on 15 while Southee had three for 29.

“I’d say it’s evenly poised,” Sri Lankan bowling coach Rumesh Ratnayake said, as he praised Lakmal’s vital contribution.

The 31-year-old right-arm quick rarely gets a chance to shine in the sub-continent where spinners dominate, but the green Hagley Oval wicket and heavy cloud cover were ripe to be exploited.

“In the fourth over, he got the line and length spot on and from there he was exceptional,” the coach said.

“The wicket was conducive enough for him to do with the ball what he wanted to.”