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Stephen Fleming would like nothing more than for his batsmen to take a leaf out of his bowlers' book when the second test against Sri Lanka starts this morning.

New Zealand snatched an early lead in the series after their bowlers dragged them to a five-wicket win at Christchurch, and Fleming said his batting line-up could take some valuable lessons from the cohesion of that performance.

Observers agreed afterwards that a New Zealand attack hadn't combined as well at home since late 2002, when Shane Bond, Daryl Tuffey and Jacob Oram conspired to rout a star-studded Indian line-up at Hamilton and Wellington.

"They bowled very well as a unit," said Fleming. "Chris Martin bowled some superb spells for no reward, and fitted smoothly into the partnership he was bowling with, whether it was Franklin or Bond.

"It was the sort of selfless performance that an attack needs - a bit like a Warne or a McGrath drying up one end while Brett Lee takes wickets from the other. It had that type of feel about it."

Fleming said it wasn't just that individuals bowled well, but that they bowled well in tandem, effectively denying the tourists' batsmen the chance to gain any traction, something he hoped would be repeated at the Basin Reserve.

He said the suggestion that the visitors' batsmen could self-destruct when contained was given more credibility by events in Christchurch.

"We were able to create pressure and give them no scoring satisfaction, and I think that's a big thing for Sri Lanka," he said. "They like to score and score quickly but we certainly nullified that and made them work harder than they wanted to."

Given the first test was completed inside three days, Fleming said all the pace bowlers had recovered well from their efforts and were likely to be picked again, although he made a special point of mentioning rookie paceman Iain O'Brien.

"You'd be hard pressed to make any changes to an attack that performed so well, but with Iain O'Brien's form the way it is, anything less than discussing him before every test would be foolhardy."

However, for all the delight over the bowling attack, Fleming acknowledged the question marks still hovering over the batting line-up, which only just held itself together for long enough to secure the win last Saturday.

New Zealand lost four for seven in the first innings and five for 10 in the second.

"There are still some questions to be answered," he conceded. "We weren't convincing winners at Jade Stadium. We were good winners but there were enough areas of concern to have us twitchy going into this game, against one of the greatest bowlers that's played the game."

Fleming was wary of the Basin's test pitch, which was looking unusually dry and brown yesterday, and for all the world like a bat-first surface.

While Sri Lanka are almost certain to take that chance to allow Muralitharan to bowl last, the New Zealand skipper said bowling first could still be an option for his side, depending on the appearance of the wicket this morning.

"Sometimes the wickets at the Basin can flatter to deceive in terms of the amount of moisture they're holding," he said. "There have been times in the past when, after all the talk has been about batting, we've bowled first and have found excessive movement.

"All we're hoping for is some pace and bounce. We don't necessarily need the sideways movement that Jade offered, just as long as we've got some pace and bounce."

Sri Lankan coach Tom Moody yesterday spoke of the challenges facing his side in New Zealand conditions, but said priorities had been addressed in the days leading up to the test, and that he hoped the batsmen would make the adjustment.

"It's very different for our players," he said. "You can try to replicate the conditions in Colombo to a certain extent, but it's nothing like when you come out here and have to start wearing four layers of clothing and dealing with breezy conditions.

"A lot of the players have played here before so it's just a question of remembering the priorities that are needed to succeed over here, and then keeping to them when under pressure in a game situation".


New Zealand: Stephen Fleming (captain), Jamie How, Craig Cumming, Mathew Sinclair, Nathan Astle, Jacob Oram, Brendon McCullum, Daniel Vettori, James Franklin, Shane Bond, Iain O'Brien, Chris Martin.

Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Sanath Jayasuriya, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillekaratne Dilshan, Chamara Kapugedera, Prasanna Jayawardene, Farveez Maharoof, Chaminda Vaas, Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan, Dilhara Fernando, Chamara Silva, Akalanka Ganegama.