Adam Milne had plenty of reasons to smile after the most successful day of his cricket career but he walked off Napier's Nelson Park with his brow furrowed.
The Central Districts fast bowler completed an enviable double of 98 and 5-44 - his best first-class efforts in either discipline - but the former was causing him grief after Otago reached 232-9 in reply to the hosts' 476.
Never had the 20-year-old raised his bat for a century at any level, and he was kicking himself after being trapped lbw by Otago seamer Ian Butler.
"It's pretty disappointing. To fall two short is agonising, especially as I hadn't got one before," Milne said after day two of the Plunket Shield match.
"There's a couple I've fallen short on similar to today, but hopefully it won't be too much of a bogey continuing on."
Milne shouldn't judge himself too harshly, given his previous best first-class score was 38, at No 11 in their previous match against Northern Districts in Gisborne. It earned him an elevation to No 9 and he grabbed his chance, adding 133 for the eighth wicket with Tarun Nethula who topped his previous best of 58 with his maiden first-class century, 108.
Milne began eyeing three figures when he reached his half century and had to inch his way closer via singles as the field was pushed back. With No 11 Andrew Mathieson 11 not out, Milne was finally defeated.
"It was an inswinging ball from Butler. I'd like to say it was missing but I think it was pretty good. I've always believed I can bat and as you go up the levels as a bowler you're cast down the back end, but I always like to work on it."
Fresh from a limited overs tour of Sri Lanka with the Black Caps, and stung by his near miss, Milne was suitably fired up to run through the Otago top order. He skittled Hamish Rutherford, Michael Bracewell and skipper Derek de Boorder in his 12-over stint to claim his first five-wicket bag.
He worked hard with bowling coach Shane Bond in Sri Lanka, his mentor for the past two years, and was trying to develop consistency, line and length and a bit of swing.
Playing only his eighth first-class match, Milne was relishing some overs under his belt, and the prospect of more today as Central, the competition leaders, look to enforce the follow-on.
"The pitch has got a good bit of pace and bounce and there's something in it for the fast bowlers. All going well, we'd like to have another crack at these boys and finish them up."
In Auckland, Wellington's six-pronged pace attack struggled to contain the hosts at Eden Park No 2 as runs flowed for a second successive day.
Auckland ended day two at 381-5, a lead of one run, with Colin Munro unbeaten on 122 and former Firebird Craig Cachopa on 74, the pair adding an unbroken 207.
The Firebirds omitted spinner Mark Houghton in favour of four specialist quicks and all-rounders Grant Elliott and Harry Boam. The recalled Dane Hutchinson had the best figures, 2-58 off 17 while Mark Gillespie and English import Chris Woakes went wicketless.
Meanwhile, Canterbury have signed Australian left-arm fast bowler Dirk Nannes for a solitary Twenty20 appearance, against Northern Districts on Friday night.
- The Dominion Post
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