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GALLE, Sri Lanka - Sri Lanka dealt New Zealand a crushing 10-wicket defeat inside three days yesterday to claim the opener of their two-match series and consign the visitors to a fifth successive test loss for the first time in 57 years.

Resuming at 35 for one in their second innings on a blameless pitch in Galle, the Black Caps were skittled out for just 118, including the loss of seven wickets for 61 runs in the morning session.

Spinner Rangana Herath was once again the tormentor-in-chief, securing the man-of-the-match award by taking six for 43 to follow up on his first innings haul of 5-65.

The home side was left requiring just 93 to win, and Tharanga Paranavitana (31 ) and debutant Dimuth Karunaratne (60 ) knocked off the runs before the tea break.

The defeat means that for the first time since 1955 - before it won a match at the highest level - New Zealand has lost five tests in a row, following 2-0 series losses against the West Indies and India earlier this year.

"That's not a nice statistic to hear and we have got to put it right quickly," captain Ross Taylor told reporters. "It will be difficult in Colombo [for the next test] and then in South Africa, it won't get any easier, but we need to pick ourselves up. It was a good wicket, as they showed when they batted in the second innings, but Herath put us under pressure and he was too good for us at the end of the day. We need a method and a plan to play him for the next match."

In New Zealand's second innings, only Daniel Flynn reached 20.