ROHIT SANKAR | 15 JANUARY, 2018
Trent Boult Dismantles Pakistan
Boult closes in on Richard Hadlee's record with blazing opening spell against Pakistan
Black Caps’ opening bowler Trent Boult set Dunedin alight with a sizzling opening spell that oversaw Pakistan's capitulation to 32/8 in the third ODI. Buoyed by the wind behind him and swinging conditions, where he is at his lethal best, Trent Boult had Pakistan reeling in his initial burst that read 5-1-4-3.
"Pretty windy today, the wind was behind me today. I let it go as aggressively as I could. Collective effort. Wanted to get the series done, knew we had to fight hard with only 250 on the board”, Boult said in the post-match presentation ceremony.
Opting to bat first in a bid to whitewash the series, New Zealand had found the going bumpy with Pakistan's seamers and young leggie, Shadab Khan, picking up frequent wickets. However, Kane Williamson stood tall amidst the ruins with Ross Taylor and Tom Latham aiding him as Kiwis ambled to a decent 257. It was at best a par total on this surface, but all hopes of Pakistan coming up with a consolation win was wiped out in no time by Trent Boult's burst.
On a surface which had enough for the quicker bowlers, Pakistan knew they had to hide their vulnerabilities and front up to two top quality seamers. Their biggest hopes rested on Azhar Ali, whose technical competence, temperament and composure acts as the perfect foil to Fakhar Zaman’s belligerence.
However, riding on a crest, Boult's first over bore ominous signs of the sensational burst to follow. He nearly had Fakhar Zaman bowled off an inside edge before prompting an outside edge off Azhar Ali that Mitchell Santner - usually a pretty good fielder - shelled.
But before Pakistan could breathe a sigh of relief, Boult produced a ripper that the former Pakistan skipper could only hope to miss. It didn't and the outside edge carried comfortably to Ross Taylor at first slip. It not only seamed away sharply but also kicked off the surface, leaving Azhar with no choice but to fend meekly at it.
First ball next over, Boult had his man, Fakhar Zaman. He had cramped the flamboyant left-hander for room all through the first over and reaped the rewards this time around, as Zaman chopped one onto his stumps. Boult was now on a hat-trick but Mohammad Hafeez negotiated the extra bounce to deny him.
The Professor’s lecture at the wicket wasn't going to last long though, with Boult producing another crackjacker to send the 37 year old back for a duck. By the end of his initial spell of five overs, Pakistan appeared completely bamboozled by the left-arm seamer and succumbed to 16/6, with the lowest ODI score ever - 35 by Zimbabwe against Sri Lanka - under threat.
He cleaned up Mohammad Amir and Rumman Raees to finish with a five-wicket haul, his fourth in ODIs, going level with Shane Bond’s tally and one behind Richard Hadlee for New Zealand bowlers with most five-fors in ODIs.
That Boult achieved this in 22 fewer games than Shane Bond and would more than likely go above Hadlee before he reaches a 115 games, makes his feat all the more appreciable.
His 5/17 was the best figures by a Kiwi bowler in ODIs against Pakistan but more importantly he gave the visitors little chance to create an impression in the series.
In his last two series', Boult has been sensational for the hosts as he always has been for them at home. He picked up 10 wickets in the series against West Indies prior to this at an average of less than 10 including a career-best 7/34 at Christchurch two days before Christmas.
This series, he once again finished as the highest wicket-taker, with 8 scalps in 3 games at an average of 13.25 and a strike rate well under 20.
In his country, the 28 year old Trent Boult is a beast, with 80 of his 112 ODI wickets coming here at an average of 20.13 and a breath-taking strike rate of 24.9. He was the joint highest wicket-taker in the 2015 ODI World Cup, which Australia and New Zealand co-hosted, - alongside Mitchell Starc - with 22 scalps in 9 matches and played a pivotal role in New Zealand's surge to their first finals.
Since his debut in 2012 only two other bowlers- Mitchell Starc and Imran Tahir - have more wickets than the fiery Boult in ODIs. It is the variety he lends with his left-armers angle that prompted Richard Hadlee to comment that New Zealand had their best even opening bowling combination in ODIs.
"I think I can confidently stand here and say without doubt that that combination will be, if it's not already, the most successful bowling combination in the history of New Zealand cricket," Hadlee had once said. "To work in tandem as they do, they will put a lot of pressure on any batting line-up, anywhere in the world in any conditions.”
Even if he may not have found immense success outside New Zealand, within the island, Boult is one hell of a force to reckon with as he has proved in the last 20 days.