By Niall Anderson at the Basin Reserve
You could forgive Sri Lankan bowling coach Rumesh Ratnayake for having thoughts of déjà vu as he watched Tom Latham destroy his bowling attack.
In 1991, Ratnayake was one of Sri Lanka's seamers at the Basin Reserve when Martin Crowe made his famous 299, combining with Andrew Jones for a partnership of 497 – the third biggest partnership in test cricket history.
Today, he watched on as Latham played a similar knock, crafting a superb unbeaten 264 as the Black Caps blasted 578.
"Exceptional," declared Ratnayake when asked what he thought of Latham's innings.
"It reminded me of the stand between Martin Crowe and Andrew Jones. The beauty was that he scored 100 then started leaving the ball again, and didn't play any rash strokes. Only when he was 250 did he go over the top. That was a good lesson in itself. He showed maturity and it was an exceptional knock. It wasn't flamboyant but it was a classy innings."
Ratnayake is well placed to make the comparison, having bowled 30 overs without success on that fateful day almost 28 years ago, and said it was "a similar feeling" as he watched his bowlers toil with limited reward.
"We should've done better. I thought we didn't hit the right areas and we didn't bowl the lengths which they did consistently well. When you come to a place like New Zealand you have to get used to the wind. We've been here more than a week now, so the wind factor was an issue, but no excuses."
Ratnayake noted that it was a challenge for his seamers to come into foreign conditions – after a long spell bowling on wickets in the sub-continent – but couldn't get past the fact that New Zealand's bowlers had no trouble taking wickets.
"It's a nice, placid track... you guys might have batted on a different one. There was a bit of up and down but it wasn't troubling the [New Zealand] batsmen as such."
New Zealand's scalps were in part thanks to more bad decisions from Sri Lanka's top order batsmen, and Ratnayake says nobody is more disappointed than the players themselves.
"They made wrong decisions and we're disappointed with that. But they're more disappointed, you saw them looking down, especially [Dimuth] Karunaratne."
A disappointing day all round for Sri Lanka, and to avoid more bad memories seeping in, Ratnayake and his bowlers will need to perform much better on the rest of the tour.