Boult: 'Hopefully I can mirror what Shaheen did to India the other night'

Boult: ‘Hopefully I can mirror what Shaheen did to India the other night’

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New Zealand seamer says “early wickets” will be the focus

Last Sunday, Shaheen Shah Afridi did the star turn in Dubai, his (in)swing and seam ripping out India’s top order. New Zealand’s left-arm swing bowler Trent Boult is now licking his lips at the prospect of doing an Afridi on India this Sunday in Dubai.
Boult comes in armed with 71 wickets in 16 games against India across formats. In particular, he has a strong head-to-head against opening batter Rohit Sharma, having taken him out three times in seven T20 innings while giving up only 29 runs off 24 balls.

“It depends when I get to bowl,” Boult said on the eve of the match against India. “Not too sure what the plan is with what overs certain bowlers are bowling, but yeah the way Shaheen bowled the other night was… from a left-armer watching on I thought it was amazing. But, yeah, there’s qualify batsmen in that Indian line-up. Early wickets are definitely the focus for us as a bowling group. But, here, we just need to be nice and clear and nice and accurate where we are trying to put the ball. But, hopefully from my point of view, it swings around a little bit and I can mirror what Shaheen did the other night (laughs).”

Toss has been a significant factor in this T20 World Cup, with the teams chasing winning all but two games in the Super 12s so far in the UAE. Boult was wary of it, and the threat posed by dew, but backed New Zealand to find a way, if they are asked to defend a total in Dubai.

Tearaway Lockie Ferguson has been sidelined from the rest of the tournament with a calf tear, but New Zealand have had a ready-made replacement in Adam Milne who has been upgraded from the reserves. Milne could well be one of New Zealand’s options to counter India in the middle and end overs.

“Whatever we do first, we need to do it extremely well,” Bout said. “India brings a lot of challenges – quality batting line-up, but with the ball we just need to be clear about the options on how to shut these guys down and obviously give them a bigger chase as possible, but it’s going to be a good challenge. Our first game in Dubai, but the wicket looks pretty good there. Yeah, really look forward to taking them on.

“It’s a hard one to understand how much dew is going to come in. But, from the one game we’ve experienced so far [in Sharjah], there hasn’t been too much of it. The overhead conditions have cooled down a lot nicely, so yeah just got to take your time and make sure you got a good grip on the ball and try to be as accurate as you can.”

New Zealand have won seven of their ten World Cup matches against India and more recently they toppled them in the inaugural World Test Championship final in Southampton. Boult, however, denied that New Zealand had the wood over India in the lead-up to Sunday’s clash.

“I wouldn’t say we have an extra edge,” Boult said. “Both sides are stacked with quality players. In terms of our team, we’re definitely excited about the opportunity that lies ahead for us. Few guys have been here in the UAE, playing the IPL, have relationships and have played with a lot of these Indian guys a lot. Here’s hoping we can put it all together tomorrow afternoon and get our ball rolling.”

Boult was hopeful of New Zealand having a fit-again Martin Guptill at their disposal against India after Pakistan quick Haris Rauf smacked his toe with a near-150-kph yorker on Tuesday. Guptill’s left toe was badly bruised after that blow, but he has since returned to training.

“Gup is pretty good,” Boult said. “He trained fully yesterday and didn’t see too many issues with him. So, he’s definitely a big piece of puzzle for us at the top of the innings. So, from what I know, he’s good to go.”

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo