Entrusted with the final over in Mumbai Indians' IPL 2020 opener against Chennai Super Kings in the absence of Lasith Malinga, where he was taken for two fours in two balls by Faf du Plessis to end the match, Trent Boult called bowling in the death overs the "biggest challenge in T20 cricket".
"It's the biggest challenge in the game, to be honest," Boult said of bowling at the death. "It's very difficult to bowl in the last couple of overs when the batsmen are set; du Plessis was set the other night on 50 runs, and when guys are hitting from that platform it's very hard to defend.
"Personally, I want to try and stick to my strengths, try and execute yorkers and take the pace off [the ball], and just try and stay a step ahead of the batsmen. It's definitely the biggest challenge in T20 cricket."
Jasprit Bumrah's poor day out added to Mumbai's concerns against the Super Kings. He leaked 32 runs in his first three overs before bowling the penultimate over, when the Super Kings needed 16 from 12 balls. He dismissed Sam Curran on the second ball but only after being hit for a six on the first ball. By the time the last over started, the Super Kings needed just five runs.
Boult said he expected Bumrah to "bounce back" as he had been "working very hard the last couple of days to find that rhythm".
Mumbai, and Boult, will be up against it again on Wednesday when they take on Kolkata Knight Riders in Abu Dhabi. The Knight Riders are expected to field a power-packed middle order, with the likes of Eoin Morgan and Andre Russell in the mix. Russell is coming offf three half-centuries in the recent CPL and had a strike rate of 249 in the death overs last IPL, including a 40-ball 80 not out against Mumbai at Eden Gardens.
"The wickets are going to change throughout the tournament but from what we experienced the other night, in the humidity the ball definitely swung around a little bit, being early in the tournament and a fresh wicket"
To add to that, Russell has an impressive record against both Bumrah (49 runs off 33 balls, one dismissal) and Boult (17 runs off nine balls, one dismissal) in T20s.
"He (Russell) is one of the most destructive batsmen in the game and therein lies the challenge," Boult accepted. "That's personally why I play the game, I like to take on the big players and look to take wickets, I'll be looking forward to that challenge and I am sure I'll face it at some stage in this tournament."
Boult found some early swing against the Super Kings with an opening spell of 3-0-15-1 but expects the pitches to deteriorate as the tournament goes on.
"I'm presuming the wickets are going to change, not drastically, but they will deteriorate in the next couple of months," he said. "It's pretty hot here, the day games will be interesting with the heat and humidity and how the wicket seems to quicken up little bit under lights.
"The wickets are going to change throughout the tournament but from what we experienced the other night, in the humidity the ball definitely swung around a little bit, being early in the tournament and a fresh wicket. From my point of view, I just want to be on the mark with the ball and take wickets. I'd like to see them as swinging-friendly conditions with a bit of pace in the wicket but the teams are assessing conditions and adjusting as quickly as possible."