Kusal Perera returned from a long-term injury in style with a half-century as Sri Lanka posted 196-5 in the first T20 against New Zealand in Auckland on Sunday.

Perera scored 53 not out off 45 balls while Charith Asalanka top-scored with a lively 67 off 41 as the tourists peppered the Eden Park boundary after being asked to bat.

The pair dominated the middle stages of the innings, combining for 103 runs after some early fireworks from opener Kusal Mendis, who blasted 25 rapid-fire runs off just nine balls.

The experienced Perera, a former Sri Lanka ODI captain, hasn't played any format for his country since the 2021 T20 World Cup nearly 18 months ago due to a long-standing shoulder problem.

The 32-year-old batter underlined his return to form by hitting four fours and a six.

His role supported Asalanka, who cleared the short boundaries six times.

Sri Lanka's innings began in disastrous fashion when Pathum Nissanka was caught behind off the first ball, from paceman Adam Milne.

Mendis got the innings under way with two sixes and two fours off Milne's next over.

The tourists are chasing the first victory of their month-long visit to New Zealand after losing the Test and one-day international series by the same 2-0 scoreline.

Opening batter Chad Bowes and pace bowler Henry Shipley are making their New Zealand debuts in the format.