The 2015 edition of the Indian Premier League swings into action this week, and Saturday will see the IPL debut of Trent Boult, the New Zealand fast bowler who took a tournament-leading 22 wickets at the Cricket World Cup as his new team, Sunrisers Hyderabad, go head to head with the IPL powerhouse Chennai Super Kings.
And while Chennai, behind Captain MS Dhoni, have dominated the IPL — reaching the final in five of the league’s seven seasons so far, emerging with two trophies — and go into Season 8 as heavy favorites to do it again, at least with bettors, the addition of the 25-year-old Boult to an already imposing bowling attack make Sunrisers the potential sleeper side of the 2015 campaign.
With the possible exception of Australia’s Mitchell Starc, Boult was easily the most feared pace bowler at the World Cup, and the left-armer who has mastered the art of swinging the ball either way brings that same intimidation factor to a Sunrisers bowling corps that also features South African veteran Dale Steyn — still, at age 31, generally considered the world’s top fast bowler.
But Steyn’s IPL performance in 2014 was below his usual standard, claiming just 11 wickets in 14 games as Hyderabad slid to a sixth-place finish.
Another open question is whether Steyn has yet to recover from the psychological wound of surrendering the Grant Elliot six with just one ball remaining in the World Cup semifinal that sent South Africa crashing out of that competition in the most heartbreaking fashion imaginable.
But paired with the left-arm Boult, Steyn could be revitalized, relieved of the pressure to carry the team’s entire bowling attack.
Boult, for his part, said in a recent interview that he is excited by the opportunity to pair with Steyn.
“Amazing, I am very much looking forward to it. Not only Steyn but also looking forward to working with the Kumars (Bhuvneshwar and Praveen) and Ishant as well. It’s so great to be playing with the heroes and sharing with them the same dressing room. Dale is a wonderful bowler with so much of knowledge. Hope he can share some of that knowledge with me,” Boult told the Press Trust of India.
Boult will also be playing under new Sunrisers Captain David Warner, two weeks after facing the Australia opener in the Cricket World Cup final.
With Boult fortifying the bowling attack, Sunrisers Hyderabad will hope that the addition of another New Zealander, Kane Williamson, can help the batsmen produce enough runs to lead the team to the IPL 2015 playoffs. The Sunrisers opener against Chennai will be carried free live online in the United States by ESPN3 at this link.
[Image: Martin Hunter/Getty Images]