One of the best exponents of the defensive game, Cheteshwar Pujara was on strike. The ball that he delivered swung from outside the off stump. Pujara left the ball, hoping that he had his stumps covered. The cherry swung in sharply and before the batsman could realize, his off stump was knocked on the ground.
Trent Boult jumped in the air in delight. He had breached through the defense of a man whose technique had been his biggest ally. Pujara walked away with his head down.
Boult played a critical role in the Kiwis steamrolling the Indians in the first Test at Wellington. His four wickets in the second innings, including that of Indian skipper Virat Kohli rocked the visitors and enabled the Black Caps to trounce the world’s No. 1 side by 10 wickets.
Over the last decade, Boult has played a critical role in New Zealand cricket. The left-arm seamer has been a vital cog of the New Zealand pace attack, along with Tim Southee. In the 66 Tests that he has played for his country, Boult has picked up a stunning 261 wickets, including eight five wicket hauls. He exhibits excellent control of the ball, and has the ability to move the cherry both ways. His accuracy, along with his impeccable line and length has enabled him to gain a strange hold over the opposition batsmen.
His numbers in New Zealand are even more impressive. He has taken more than half of his Test wickets (144 to be precise) in his home country. His career best figures of 6/31 came in the year 2018 at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch. In a masterclass that stands as a prime example of mastery over the art of swing bowling, Boult caught the Sri Lankan batsmen in a loop and made the ball dance to his tunes.
Another performance of the left-arm seamer that will be etched in memory for a long time is the 6/32 that he captured at the Eden Park in Auckland as England were bowled out for just 58 in the first innings. The English batsmen were left clueless by Boult’s onslaught with the ball in hand.
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In ODIs too, Boult has been riveting for the Kiwis. In the 89 matches that he has played for his country, he has picked up 164 wickets at an excellent average of 25.07. When Boult's best bowling performances are spoken about, his 7/34 against the West Indies stands out. The 'Men in Maroon' were all at sea as Boult sliced through their batting order with disdain.
His 6/33 against Australia at Seddon Park is also a case study of how accuracy and control over the swing can make a bowler lethal. In a match where the Aussies scored 257, Boult stood out as the pick of the bowlers with 6/33. Even in the 2019 World Cup semi final against India, Boult took the crucial wickets of the chasing maestro Kohli and the dangerous Ravindra Jadeja to stem the flow of runs and turned the match.
Boult is just 30 years old and has plenty of cricket left in him. He is in the best form of his career and is a real asset with the ball for his side. It is likely that he will continue to amaze us with his control with the ball, and his immaculate accuracy.
He is indeed a ‘Boult’ from the blue.