An unbroken 209-run stand between batsmen Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson put New Zealand in a rare position of command on day one of the second Test against at the P Sara Oval in Colombo.

Outgunned inside three days in the series opener, the tourists enjoyed a prompt turnaround on Sunday, when they climbed to 223 for two before rain brought a premature close to play.

Taylor, for his first Test century of the year and first against the Sri Lankans, was unbeaten on 119. Williamson, meanwhile, moved to 95 not out during the country's first double-century partnership since 2010.

Surpassing the lofty heights by prolific pair Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum against Bangladesh 33 months ago, captain Taylor and sidekick Williamson displayed tremendous powers of concentration in testing conditions.

While the skipper rode some early edges, the alliance was largely flawless. The Sri Lankans, meanwhile, can be accused of going through the motions. Some questionably defensive field placements and a peculiar lack of bowling changes lined host captain Mahela Jayawardene's decisions.

Spinners Suraj Randiv and Rangana Herath operated in tandem for considerable periods, while the part time spin of Tillakaratne Dilshan - back in the side after recovering from injury - proved rather ineffective.

Fast bowler Shaminda Eranga, though, will be buoyed by the reverse swing he found amid conditions void of seam. All-rounder Angelo Mathews, too, promised more - provided the injury that has hampered his bowling this year doesn't flair up.

Earlier, Guptill perished caught behind in the first of the day, with McCullum falling to a dodgy lbw decision shortly thereafter. Umpire Marais Erasmus was entirely incorrect in obliging Eranga's appeal, with the unfortunate right-hander given out despite plenty of evidence of an inside edge.

Determined to square a series they were written out of even before its start, the New Zealanders went a long way to answering their many critics on Sunday. Monday, however, will be the truest test of their ability to last the long haul.