When New Zealand and Sri Lanka last clashed in a Test at the Basin Reserve, 14 years ago, a flurry of wickets on the first day was to prove an aberration, and two double-centuries and the highest partnership in Test history provided the lasting memories. After three days, this Test appears headed in the same direction.
In 1991, New Zealand were rolled for 174 after being inserted, and Aravinda de Silva's masterly 267 took Sri Lanka to 497 in reply. New Zealand's response was emphatic: 671 for 4 to save the match, including the record stand of 467 between Martin Crowe (299) and Andrew Jones (186). This time Sri Lanka's batsmen suffered first-up in bowler-friendly conditions and, just as de Silva had done, Lou Vincent steered New Zealand into pole position with a classy 224. The chances of part three - Crowe and Jones's feat - also being emulated may seem a long shot, but in Marvan Atapattu, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, Sri Lanka have batsmen with 11 scores in excess of 200 between them.
Vincent was the undeniable star but, at least momentarily, it looked as if it might have been Chaminda Vaas's day. After struggling at Napier, when Vaas found his rhythm yesterday he soon reduced New Zealand to 153 for 4. Vaas conceded that being so well known by his contemporaries means that his continuing success at 31 depends much on consistency in line and length. Catches in close positions and at slip, apart from two lbws, were proof he achieved that.
When Vaas lured Stephen Fleming into his hooking trap and snapped up Brendon McCullum first ball, he was on a hat-trick for the second time in the innings. Vaas claimed the first six wickets to fall, and had an ideal opportunity to better his Test-best of 7 for 71. It wasn't to be, though, as Vincent powered to his first Test double-century.
Starting the day on 79, Vincent was quickly into his stride, going to his third Test century shortly after lunch. Past that milestone, Vincent produced a delightful array of shots; three paddle-sweeps for four off Upul Chandana's legbreaks from round the wicket will stick in the memory, as will his reverse-swept four to go past 150 and a straight lofted six. Aside from one blemish, when he was dropped by Sanath Jayasuriya at 193, Vincent was in total control.
Forced to endure the tea break and the chance of a fourth rain delay when 194, Vincent cracked Chandana through the covers off the back foot for four and raised his arms to celebrate his finest moment in cricket.
Vincent ensured that Sri Lanka has two days of hard slog ahead of them, and if any inspiration is needed, it was not that long ago - in Colombo in August 1997 - that Sanath Jayasuriya and Roshan Mahanama batted together for more than two days to set a partnership of 576 that exceed the Crowe-Jones marathon and has yet to be beaten.
Andrew McLean is a presenter of The Cricket Club, New Zealand's only national radio cricket show.