The Blackcaps teased implosion but ultimately secured a 45-run win in the opening One Day International against Sri Lanka in Tauranga.
On an absolute belter of a wicket, New Zealand set the tourists 372 for victory off the back of 138 from opening batsman Martin Guptill, while the returning James Neesham smashed 45 from just 13 balls, including taking 34 runs off the 49th over – pounding five sixes in the process.
- Blackcaps v Sri Lanka: as it happened
But Sri Lanka were well in the hunt deep into their chase after a brilliant century from Kusal Perera - which backed up a creative 75 from 50 balls from opener Niroshan Dickwella.
Dickwella combined for a stand of 119 for the first wicket alongside Danushka Gunathilaka (43) as Sri Lanka rocked along at eight runs an over for the first half of their innings.
But superb bowling efforts from Neesham and Ish Sodhi pegged the chase back and when Trent Boult finally removed Perera for a 86 ball 102 – the match was New Zealand's.
Neesham removed the first two Sri Lankin batsman - ending with figures of 3-38 from eight overs.
Sodhi was excellent as well, taking the wickets of Kusal Mendis (18) and Asela Gunaratne (11) finishing with 2/53 on a wicket that didn't offer much spin for the leg-break bowler.
It wasn't a great return to the national fold for Matt Henry however, the Cantabrian was pummelled for 87 runs off his 10 overs – taking the final wicket of the match when he bowled Lasith Malinga (11).
Earlier Guptill's 14th ODI set up a huge score for the home side.
The right-hand opening batsman hit five sixes and 11 fours, combining in two crucial partnerships with Kane Williamson (163) and Ross Taylor (88).
Williamson threw away a potentially huge score himself – playing onto his stumps off Nuwan Pradeep for a run a ball 76. Taylor started his 2019 in a similar vein to his last 12 months. The former national skipper averaged over 90 in ODI's during 2018 and he followed that form with a 37 ball 54 including six fours and two sixes.
Neesham put the finishing touches on the innings – hammering Thisara Perera for 34 runs in the penultimate over.
The left-hander hit the first four balls of the over for six and was on track to equal the world record of South African Herschelle Gibbs – but he could only muster a two off the fifth ball before smashing the final ball of the over into the bank.
New Zealand takes a 1-0 lead in the series with game two to be played at the same venue on Saturday.