Black Caps bowler Trent Boult has revealed his admiration for South Africa captain AB de Villiers, highlighting the degree of difficulty bowlers like himself are playing at when they line up against batsmen such the Proteas legend.
Speaking to Radio Sport Breakfast ahead of tomorrow's five-match ODI series finale at Eden Park, Boult described the South African as a "one in million" player when asked if his bowling figures of 1/70 across 10 overs in Wednesday's ODI match against South Africa in Hamilton was a good representation of how he bowled, in particular to de Villiers.
"De Villiers is a one in a million really, he can quickly damage your figures, like he did there [in Wednesday's ODI]," Boult said.
"I think we got hurt pretty badly at the death, two or three games earlier we delivered really well, so I think the focus is probably not getting too strung up on it and backing the plans that have worked, they've worked earlier in the series, and back them that they're going to work no matter where you take them to.
"Here we're coming to Eden Park, small ground, generally a lot of sixes and a lot of boundaries hit. You've got to think on your feet, and you've just got to deliver your best balls really, and back that they're good enough for whoever is facing them."
Boult was reluctant to reveal his tactics on how to deliver to de Villiers, who holds the records for fastest half century (16 balls) and century (31 balls) in an ODI match, rather emphasising the importance of dismissing the 33-year-old as early in the innings as possible.
"He's world class, but ideally the plan is not having to bowl to him at the end, getting him out earlier and bowl at some of the other guys," Boult said.
"He always seems to be a step ahead of you in terms of where you're going to put the ball.
"Whatever you do choose, whether it's a slower ball or a bouncer or a yorker - I know everyone just loves a traditional 'toe-crusher' as they call it, but the batsman are moving around that much these days, you've just got to execute whatever it is.
"They use him very well," Boult said when talking about South Africa's selection policy of de Villiers, who is used as the fifth-order batsman for the number two-ranked ODI side in the world.
"If we do get a couple of quick wickets early, generally you see him bumped down the order to be there to cash in at the end, and he's done in three out of the four games already, so 100 per cent, we need to get him early and hope that he's not there at the end."
Boult will be hoping to dismiss de Villiers early in the piece in tomorrow's series decider and restrict the South African captain's involvement as much as possible if the Black Caps are to come away with a match and series victory at Eden Park.
The fifth and final ODI of the series begins at 2pm tomorrow.