Batsmen always insist they don't get too far ahead of themselves; after all, it only takes one ball to stuff up their best intentions.

But what chance Jeet Raval could sniff his first test hundred inching ever closer at Seddon Park today, could just about reach out and touch it?

There he was, up to 84, making good progress, looking in solid form and having long gone past 50 for a sixth time in his ninth test.

Just maybe his concentration wavered a moment. Or maybe he simply got beaten by a decent ball.


Either way he was gone, pushing out at seamer Shannon Gabriel to be caught behind.

The Auckland lefthander is rattling up a good collection of scores and showing consistency, ticking the boxes, in other words.

Which leaves one big challenge in front.

''I wouldn't say that,'' he said when asked if missing out on a century again was frustrating.

''For me it's about making a solid contribution to the team target. If I can do that consistently I know I'm giving myself a good chance.''

Here's the situation; having made half centuries in two of his first three innings against Pakistan last year, Raval has followed that with 52, 36, 80, 88, 42 and 84 in his last six innings. His average stands at 47.61.

You get a sense three figures are around the bend.

''I was satisfied but I would have liked to score more runs and be not out at the end of the day,'' the 28-year-old said.

''But I'm happy with the way I went and hopefully I can kick on.''

Opening partner Tom Latham went for 22 and is averaging 38.52. That's a good pair of numbers for an opening combination.

Latham has scored six centuries; Raval can't be far off cracking one soon.

The problem is he's only got a maximum of five test innings left this summer; this test and two matches against England in March.

He's not in the short-form side and probably won't be for some time, so chances are limited.

''For me it's about preparing for these two tests and I gave my absolute best to making sure I was ready,'' he said.

''Then there's a little period off with white ball cricket for Auckland hopefully so that gives me a chance to upskill myself in those forms.

''Then later in the summer making sure I am ready for those (England) tests. I try and break it down and see what's in front of me.''

Keeping it simple and thinking one step at a time. Sounds a good plan.