Cricket: Sodhi's leg-spin gets nod to take on England

By David Leggat

Ish Sodhi celebrates taking a wicket with Cameron Fletcher of New Zealand. Photo / Getty Images
Ish Sodhi celebrates taking a wicket with Cameron Fletcher of New Zealand. Photo / Getty Images

Cricket's most exotic bowling art has produced the most intriguing selection in the New Zealand XI to play England next week.

Ish Sodhi is a highly regarded 20-year-old at Northern Districts. And he gives the ball a clump too. He belted New Zealand's under-19 team into their World Cup semifinal with 22 in 10 balls at the death to get his team past the West Indies on the final ball in Queensland last year.

In this season's Plunket Shield, he's taken 20 wickets at an unflattering 44.6.

Yet it looks as if the Punjab-born Sodhi has jumped the queue ahead of two recent international leggies, Todd Astle and Tarun Nethula.

Nethula, who gives the ball a rip, played five ODIs between February and July last year, and limited opportunities in the West Indies led to a loss of confidence.

Plunket Shield numbers this season? He has taken 21 wickets at 34 apiece for Central Districts.

Astle made his test debut in the 167-run win in Colombo.

He took his maiden wicket and made important runs in the second innings, 35 in 133 minutes, sharing a 97-run stand with his captain, Ross Taylor.

He missed the tour to South Africa, partly because there wouldn't be much use for his type of fare there.

For Canterbury, Astle - at 26, three years younger than Nethula - has taken just 11 wickets at a pricey 65 runs each this summer.

It may be selectors Mike Hesson and Kim Littlejohn figure they've seen enough of Nethula and Astle, know what they can do and want to cast the net wider.

The New Zealand XI is a developmental side. Time is on their side, but if Sodhi grabs his chance in Queenstown it may come to be seen as a significant step into the future.

New Zealand XI

New Zealand XI to play England in Queenstown, starting February 27: Luke Ronchi (c), Hamish Rutherford, Tom Latham, Carl Cachopa, Dean Brownlie, Neil Broom, Corey Anderson, Jimmy Neesham, Ish Sodhi, Neil Wagner, Mark Gillespie.

- NZ Herald

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