Trent Boult produced an economical spell of bowling to take three wickets and help New Zealand to a tense three-run win over Sri Lanka in their first Twenty20 international on Thursday.
Boult combined his speed with strict line and length to finish with 3-21 off four overs and had the dangerous Milinda Siriwardana caught in the deep for 42 to leave the visitors needing 30 runs off the final three overs.
The left-armer then took a vital catch to dismiss Nuwan Kulasekara for 14 in the final over bowled by Grant Elliott, before Chamara Kapugedera was brilliantly run out by Martin Guptill with a bullet throw for 17.
The visitors needed 13 runs off the final over but fell short as Elliott, back after a broken hand, sent down composed six deliveries that kept them off balance and they finished on 179-9 chasing New Zealand's 182-4 in their 20 overs.
Siriwardana and Thisara Perera (28) had got their side back into the game with 49 runs in 32 balls after Boult, Matt Henry and leg spinner Ish Sodhi had reduced the visitors to 84-5 in the 10th over.
The match had been billed by New Zealand coach Mike Hesson as the start of an extended run of selection matches ahead of the World Twenty20 in India with limited overs specialist Colin Munro brought back into the side.
Munro did his chances no harm with the bat, scoring 36 while batting at number three, but his medium pace bowling was too full and did not put pressure on the Sri Lankan batsmen as he conceded 17 runs in two overs.
New Zealand's total had been set up by a century stand by Martin Guptill (58) and Kane Williamson (53), who has taken over the captaincy from Brendon McCullum.
The 34-year-old McCullum was not selected for the Twenty20 matches as he is retiring after next month's series against Australia.
Ross Taylor (22) and Elliott (10) put on 19 in the final 10 balls after Sri Lanka's bowlers had slowed their run rate in the latter part of the innings.
Elliott bowls an excellent final over as New Zealand beat Sri Lanka by three runs in the first T20 international on Thursday.
Kapugedera is run out as he attempts to steal the strike. SL 174-9, 19.4 overs.
Chamara Kapugedera run out 17 (15b 2x4 0x6)
WICKET! Kulasekera goes with Boult pouching a skier. SL 173-8, 19.3 overs.
Nuwan Kulasekara c Boult b Elliott 14 (10b 1x6)
McClenaghan bowls a tight over and Sri Lanka need 13 off 6 to win. SL 170-7, 19 overs.
Kulasekara closes the gap with a towering six off Sodhi. SL 164-7, 18 overs.
WICKET! Boult strikes with a slower delivery with Anderson taking a superb catch on the boundary. SL 153-7, 17 overs.
Milinda Siriwardana c Anderson b Boult 42 (31b 2x4 2x6)
Kapugedera hammers a couple of boundaries off Sodhi as Sri Lanka inch closer towards their target. SL 148-6, 16 overs.
WICKET! Thisara's cameo comes to an end. SL 133-6, 14.4 overs.
Thisara Perera c Guptill b Henry 28 (19b 3x4 1x6)
Sri Lanka's run chase seems to be back on track with Thisara cracking a couple of boundaries off Munro. SL 121-5, 14 overs.
Thisara breaks the drought of boundaries by whacing a free hit from McClenaghan for a six over midwicket. SL 108-5, 13 overs.
WICKET! Gunathilake falls to Sodhi slicing to backward point. SL 84-5, 9.3 overs.
Danushka Gunathilaka c Taylor b Sodhi 46 (29b 3x4 2x6)
Gunathilaka continues to bludgeon the Kiwi attack slamming Elliott for a six. SL 66-4, 7 overs.
Siriwardana gets going whacking a boundary and a six off McClenaghan. SL 56-4, 6 overs.
WICKET! Wickets are tumbling like nine pins for Sri Lanka with Mathews perishing with Elliott taking a good low catch. SL 42-4, 5 overs.
Angelo Mathews c Elliott b Henry 4 (5b 1x4)
WICKET! Boult strikes again as Jayasuriya is caught off a faint nick on the leg side. SL 33-3, 3.5 overs.
Shehan Jayasuriya c Ronchi b Boult 4 (3b)
WICKET! Double blow for Sri Lanka as stand-in captain Chandimal attempts to go big only to slice it to Sodhi in the deep. SL 27-2, 3 overs.
Dinesh Chandimal c Sodhi b Henry 7 (7b 1x4)
WICKET! Dilshan goes for a golden duck nicking Boult behind with the umpires giving him out after much deliberation whether the catch was taken cleanly. SL 10-1, 1.1 overs.
Tillakaratne Dilshan c Ronchi b Boult 0 (1b)
Gunathilaka gets going with two consecutive boundaries off Henry as Sri Lanka begin chasing 183. SL 10-0, 1 over.
New Zealand innings
New Zealand riding on a 101-run opening stand between Martin Guptill (58) and Kane Williamson (53) made 182-4 after being put into bat in the first T20 international on Thursday.
WICKET! Munro departs beaten by a slower delivery from Kulasekara. NZ 163-4, 18.2 overs.
Colin Munro c and b Kulasekara 36 (26b 2x4 2x6)
Lakmal goes for 16 with Munro slamming a boundry and a six. NZ 163-3, 18 overs.
WICKET! Vandersay gets the dangerous Anderson who slices a googly to long off. NZ 135-3, 16.1 overs.
Corey Anderson c Siriwardana b Vandersay 2 (3b)
WICKET! Williamson perishes holing out to midwicket. NZ 131-2, 15.1 overs.
Kane Williamson c Lakmal b Kulasekara 53 (42b 5x4 1x6)
Munro takes on Dilshan clearing the long off ropes followed by a reverse sweep to the fence. NZ 131-1, 15 overs.
WICKET! Sri Lanka finally get a breakthrough as Guptill is beaten by a direct hit from point by Kapugedera. NZ 101-1, 10.5 overs.
Martin Guptill run out 58 (34b 4x4 4x6)
Guptill completes his half century off 31 balls by slamming Thisara for his fourth six. NZ 97-0, 10 overs.
Williamson shows his mastery over spin using his dancing shoes to step out and loft Vandersay for a boundary over extra cover. NZ 85-0, 9 overs.
Williamson gets a streaky boundary via an inside edge off Lakmal which almost grazes his off stump. NZ 76-0, 8 overs.
Williamson ends the powerplay with two consecutive boundaries on either side of the wicket off Jayasuriy. NZ 62-0, 6 overs.
Kulasekara bowls a tight over but the openers have raced to 50 in just 28 balls. NZ 53-0, 5 overs.
Spin introduced Williamson gets into the act stepping and lofting Jayasuriya back over his head for a six. NZ 49-0, 4 overs.
There is no respite for Sri Lanka as Guptill slams Kulasekera for his third six while Williamson also fetches a boundary. NZ 40-0, 3 overs.
Guptill continues his terrific form slamming a boundary and a straight six off Thisara. NZ 27-0, 2 overs.
Lakmal goes for 14 in the first over with Guptill slamming a couple of boundaries and hoisting a six. NZ 14-0,1 over.
Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bowl in the first T20 international against New Zealand at Mount Mauganui on Thursday.
Tourists looking for a consolation win after conceding both the Test and ODI series.
New Zealand: MJ Guptill, KS Williamson, C Munro, LRPL Taylor, CJ Anderson, GD Elliott, L Ronchi, MJ Henry, IS Sodhi, MJ McClenaghan, TA Boult, MJ Santner, AF Milne
Sri Lanka: MD Gunathilaka, TM Dilshan, DSNFG Jayasuriya, LD Chandimal, AD Mathews, TAM Siriwardana, CK Kapugedera, NLTC Perera, KMDN Kulasekara, RAS Lakmal, JDF Vandersay, PVD Chameera, I Udana, SMSM Senanayake, KDK Vithanage