Familiar foes following their recent One-Day International (ODI) series, Trent Boult believes past encounters will count for nothing when New Zealand and Sri Lanka meet in their ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 opener. Pitted together on the opening weekend of this year’s tournament, the two sides went head-to-head as recently as January, with New Zealand running out 3-0 series winners on home soil.
Coming against tournament rivals, the temptation could have been to see the standout result as a sign of things to come on Saturday in Cardiff. But fast bowler Boult, who warmed up for the clash with four wickets in the defeat to West Indies on Tuesday, insists a different challenge entirely awaits his teammates in the pressure cooker of a World Cup.
“We played them just recently in home conditions, but who knows what to expect going into these ICC events,” he said. “Anyone is there for the taking and I’m sure they’ll be excited and passionate as well. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Winning the toss at the County Ground and electing to field, 2015 finalists New Zealand were stunned by a fine display of hitting from the West Indies, who posted 421 – their biggest-ever one-day score.
That Herculean task ultimately proved beyond the Black Caps despite fine knocks from captain Kane Williamson and World Cup novice Tom Blundell – a centurion on the eve of his competition debut – and Boult highlighted several areas for tangible improvement if they are to improve on their runners-up tag from four years ago. “A lot of credit is due for the way they came out and put us under pressure. We felt that pressure,” added Boult, who also took four wickets against India at The Oval on Saturday.
“The plans will need to be sharpened up. We can talk as much as we want off the field and put plans in place, but the main thing is putting the ball where we want. “It would be obtuse of me to think that we would be facing conditions like the Oval on every occasion, but it was nice to get a feel for a good wicket and be put under a bit of pressure as well.
“It’s been a good build-up. There’s some good competition for spots – that’s the main thing. The guys have been together for a while now and we know what works. “The way T20 cricket goes, it can come down to six or 12 runs at the end of it, and ODI cricket is becoming an extended version of T20 cricket in my opinion.
“If you can make those big 17 or 18-run overs into 12-run overs, that can make a big difference in the end. “If we’re clear on that, we can go a fair way in this tournament.”