Trent Boult is thrilled after taking a wicket, Pakistan v New Zealand, 1st ODI, Abu Dhabi. Getty Images
Even by New Zealand's standards, Trent Boult had a quiet winter. Post the IPL season in May, the left-arm fast bowler returned to action only last month and featured in a solitary first class game and a couple of List A fixtures for the Northern Districts. But the off-season months were by no means uneventful.
The 29-year-old was away on paternity leave and welcomed his newborn son last month. Barely a month after becoming a father, Boult produced a memorable performance on his return to international cricket, becoming the third New Zealander to claim an ODI hat-trick in his side's victory over Pakistan in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday (November 7). The achievement was quickly attributed to wife Gert and their first born.
"The lucky charm. He must have been watching in the early hours of the morning back home. I haven't caught up with them [family] yet but I'm sure they're pretty happy," a beaming Boult said.
"I've had a pretty quiet winter, probably four months off, away from cricket. The summer pretty much starts here for me. I've been in the gym doing the things I need to do to make sure my body's right. The rhythm felt good tonight."
Defending 266 in the first ODI, Boult struck with the second ball of his second over when he tucked opener Fakhar Zaman up with a delivery that came in with the angle and ricocheted off his pads to disturb the off-stump. Babar Azam edged a wide delivery for Ross Taylor to take a sharp catch at wide slip off the next ball, bringing in Mohammad Hafeez to face the hat-trick delivery. To Hafeez, Boult bowled his patent inswinger which struck the batsman on the pads adjacent to the leg-stump.
Boult picked out the Hafeez dismissal as his favourite of the three. "My role is to run in and pitch the ball up and swing it around and try to take wickets. We're always aiming to get a couple at the top in that first power play," Boult said.
"When the hat-trick ball came around I was just trying to make him [Hafeez] play and get the ball on the wickets. It was nice for it to swing back a little bit and trap him in front, a pretty cool feeling," he added.
Boult finished the night with figures of 3 for 54 and in combination with fellow fast bowlers Lockie Ferguson (3 for 36) and Tim Southee (1 for 31) strangled the Pakistan chase to complete a 47-run win. The victory, coming on the back of a disappointing loss in the preceding T20I series, gives New Zealand early hope of winning a third successive ODI series win against Pakistan in UAE after 2009 (2-1) and 2014 (3-2).
"They're a quality side and the big challenge is to come over here and beat them in conditions like this," Boult said. "If we can come with the same kind of energy and a similar gameplan in a couple of nights' time it will be a big one to get across a good side."