Colombo, August 22: New Zealand wicketkeeper BJ Watling believes the Black Caps can take plenty of positives into the second Test against Sri Lanka, despite a six-wicket defeat in the first match of the series.
Dimuth Karunaratne scored a century in Galle to inspire Sri Lanka to a comfortable victory, ending a run of seven straight Test defeats to the Black Caps.
Tom Latham's drop let Karunaratne off the hook early on day five, and though the hosts eventually lost their skipper when he edged Tim Southee behind, Sri Lanka had already done the bulk of the work in pursuit of their 268-run target.
Watling, though, insists New Zealand played well in spells throughout the first Test, suggesting missed chances to dismiss Sri Lanka's key figures were crucial in deciding the outcome.
"We're in a good space, we're very disappointed to have lost that match," Watling told a news conference ahead of the second Test in Colombo.
"We'd got ourselves into a good position to win it and obviously, we let it slip a fraction. We felt like we played some pretty good cricket over the five days."
"We lost some key phases of that game. We know it's tough to play in sub-continent conditions and then it'll all happen, and you can lose wickets.
"It's about taking it that little bit deeper. We had a few good starts in the first innings and probably should have scored about 350 on that surface, but we let Sri Lanka back in the game and that cost us.
"We bowled really well in the first innings and put them under a lot of pressure. Even in the second innings we missed a few chances that could have changed the game.
"Our spinners bowled really well, asked a lot of good questions, but we didn't quite take those opportunities."
on the pic.twitter.com/lphRAPvteT— ICC (@ICC) August 20, 2019
Watling, who scored 77 in the second innings, added New Zealand cannot entirely blame themselves for the defeat.
"Nobody is trying to drop a catch or miss anything. They were pretty tough chances. We have to give a lot of credit to Sri Lanka's batsmen, especially their opening partnership," he said.
"They took it deep enough to win the Test match and hopefully we can look to make some more inroads into the top order and put the middle order under some more pressure."
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson and Sri Lanka bowler Akila Dananjaya were both reported for suspect bowling actions in the first Test.
They will undergo testing within 14 days from the reporting date - August 18 - though they are permitted to bowl in Colombo.