Sri Lanka 211 and 10 for 1 trail New Zealand 522 for 9 dec (Vincent 224, Fleming 88, Vaas 6-108) by 301 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out
Lou Vincent's magnificent 224, the seventh-highest Test score by a New Zealander, left Sri Lanka looking down the barrel of a series defeat as their opponents piled up a mountainous 522 for 9. Chris Martin then added to Sri Lanka's misery by firing out Sanath Jayasuriya to leave them in desperate trouble on 10 for 1, still trailing by 301 runs with two days to play.
After showcasing unflappable composure, unblinking patience and steely determination during the first half of his innings, a period in which there were a handful of stages where runs dried up completely, Vincent changed the tempo of the game on the third afternoon and emphatically seized complete control for New Zealand with a belligerent assault.
He had crawled along during a wet, windy and cold first session, adding just 14 runs and finishing on 93 from 219 balls, but the departure of Stephen Fleming and Brendon McCullum in quick succession shortly before lunch proved the turning point - perhaps as much for his career as this game - as he was forced out of his shell.
During the afternoon he sped along, collecting an additional 131 runs in 129 balls. During the spree he notched his highest first-class score and his maiden double-century. He also shared crucial lower-order stands of 48 with James Franklin (15), a record 98 with Kyle Mills (31), and 59 with Paul Wiseman (32 not out) that left Sri Lanka deeply frustrated.
Highly intense at the start of the innings as he tried to cement a permanent berth in the middle order, Vincent relaxed after passing his third Test hundred, sticking out his tongue in celebration at reaching 150 with a cheeky reverse sweep and then jigging with delight when Jayasuriya, normally so safe as a catcher, spilled a straightforward chance at deep backward square.
Given the responsibility of batting at No. 4 because of Fleming's bruised knee, Vincent scored the majority of his runs on the off side, with the cover-drive a feature of his innings. In all he cracked 25 fours and four sixes, including an enormous straight drive off Jayasuriya that landed in the top tier. Aside from Jayasuriya's lapse, the only other chance was Thilan Samaraweera's drop at first slip on 64.
When Vaas fired out Fleming and McCullum with consecutive deliveries before rain forced the players off for an early lunch, the lead was a moderate 83 and Sri Lanka sniffed a chance to pull themselves back into the game. But Vincent quickly stole back the initiative with Franklin and his lower-order colleagues.
Franklin's resistance was ended by a Lasith Malinga toe-crusher, but was followed by a useful cameo from Mills, whose contribution included a six struck so sweetly off Malinga that it sailed down Wellington High Street, where it was fielded by a bemused shopper. Sri Lanka's upset bowlers started to run out of ideas, and it took a run-out to finally end Vincent's knock.
In the morning, Chaminda Vaas had slowed New Zealand's progress during a rain-interrupted session that yielded just 44 runs in 14.3 overs. Vaas was riding on the confidence gained from his better rhythm the previous day and moving the newish ball dangerously. While Farveez Maharoof was picked off relatively comfortably, Vaas was menacing and grabbed his fifth and sixth wickets.
Fleming lived dangerously in the early exchanges, surviving one ferocious appeal for lbw - a good decision by Darrell Hair with the ball just creeping over the stumps - and later being given a possible reprieve when he looked to have gloved a hook. But Vaas won the battle when Fleming pulled straight into the lap of a kneeling Shantha Kalavitigoda, who had been positioned 20 metres in from the backward-square boundary. Fleming had scored 88 and added a crucial 141 for the fifth wicket.
Then, for the second time in the match, Vaas was left on a hat-trick as McCullum, apparently struggling to pick the ball up in the gloom, chipped back a simple return catch, an offering that was gleefully accepted and celebrated with a general chorus of whooping from his team-mates. But while the weather improved after lunch the mood of Sri Lanka's players grew increasingly depressed. With the forecasters promising two dry days, they now need to bat superbly to avoid defeat.
How they were out
Stephen Fleming c Kalavitigoda b Vaas 88 (294 for 5)
Top-edged swivel-hook to deep backward square
Brendon McCullum c & b Vaas 0 (294 for 6)
Chipped back simple return catch
James Franklin lbw Malinga 15 (342 for 7)
Failed to pick up a toe-crusher in the gloom
Kyle Mills c Jayawardene b Malinga 31 (440 for 8)
Top-edged pull to deep midwicket
Lou Vincent run out (Jayasuriya) 224 (499 for 9)
Finally caught short
Sanath Jayasuriya c Vincent b Martin 2 (6 for 1)
Fenced at off-stump delivery and edged to slip
Charlie Austin is the editor of Cricinfo in Sri Lanka.