Fast-tracked Milne targets magical barrier

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 05:00 15/01/2014
Adam Milne
Photosport
AIM AND FIRE: New Zealand fast bowler Adam Milne produced a 153kmh thunderbolt in Auckland on Saturday and hopes to better it against West Indies tonight.

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At just 21 and with a 153kmh delivery already notched on his bowling belt, it's scary to think how quick Adam Milne can go.

The New Zealand quick believes he's bowled faster in domestic one-day matches, with no speed guns present and batsmen hopping about. It means he, and a fair few in the crowd at Westpac Stadium tonight, will be rubbernecking to the big screen's speedball readings as Milne charges in.

"That's the million dollar question, isn't it? I don't know. I'd love to be able to get 160 but I'm not sure if that's in my realm. Maybe one faster than I did the other day would be nice," Milne said, ahead of tonight's second Twenty20 international against West Indies.

Not since his mentor Shane Bond, who topped the radar at 156.4kmh at the 2003 World Cup, has a New Zealand bowler felt this need for speed. And only a handful - Shoaib Akhtar (the fastest at 161.3kmh), Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Jeff Thomson - have cracked the magical 160kmh barrier.

"You see some of those guys that have done it; Lee and Akhtar - they're pretty special individuals with extremely good actions to get to that pace. It'd be awesome to be able to do it but it might be out of my reach. Seven kmh is a lot in terms of getting to 160kmh, but you never know," Milne said.

Saturday's rapid four-over spell of one for 15 in New Zealand's 81-run victory at Eden Park was in the nick of time for Milne, too, in terms of living up to the lofty billing given him by Bond and captain Brendon McCullum.

It means his name is expected to be among the 13 announced today for the ODI series against India starting in Napier on Sunday. Of tonight's 12, batsman Colin Munro is expected to drop out while Kane Williamson and Kyle Mills return.

Milne's rapid cameo came at the right time for the bean counters, too, and should entice a few more through the gates for the West Indies' tour finale.

Big-hitting Chris Gayle's absence through injury robbed the game of some pulling power, and after six weeks of the erratic tourists who pulled one cracker out of the bag in Hamilton, the India series opener is long overdue.

After those Hamilton horrors in the fifth ODI, New Zealand covet consistency and two polished showings back-to-back. Their sometimes wayward fielding was back to its best while McCullum played a captain's knock and Luke Ronchi, under the most pressure of the ODI incumbents, ensured his spot for India.

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West Indies will be dangerous, with nothing to lose, but they still lack star quality. Fiery quick Tino Best, perhaps the only fast bowler to sledge a batsman (McCullum) after having a full toss hit for six, bemoaned their lack of hitting power with Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy absent.

Chasing runs has been a clear winner in T20 internationals at the stadium, where the pitch is usually slow but quickens up under the evening dew. The past four have been won by the chasing side, with England cruising home by 10 wickets last February after Alex Hales and Michael Lumb went berserk. New Zealand beat India by five wickets in 2009, and South Africa by six wickets in 2012.

- The Dominion Post

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