Cricket: Vettori puts positive spin on Sodhi's selection

Former NZ captain full of praise for young leg-spinner he touts as one of the most talented bowlers he's seen

Consistent performances from Ish Sodhi have pushed him to the forefront of selectors' minds. Photo / Getty Images
Consistent performances from Ish Sodhi have pushed him to the forefront of selectors' minds. Photo / Getty Images

New Zealand's finest spinner has no doubt the newest arrival to the international game has the talent to succeed.

Ish Sodhi was yesterday named in New Zealand's test squad to tour Bangladesh next month.

On the back of 13 games in a first-class career which began in last season's Plunket Shield, the 20-year-old from Northern Districts has been elevated into a three-pronged spin attack, complementing Bruce Martin's left arm orthodox and Kane Williamson's increasingly assured off spin.

Dan Vettori believes the selectors have made the right move, and have done it at the right time.

As New Zealand's youngest test player at 18 years 10 days on debut in 1997, he knows a bit about early promotion.

"He's probably one of the most talented bowlers I've ever seen," Vettori, New Zealand's second most successful test bowler and former captain, said yesterday. "His skill level is incredibly high. I think there's something special about him."

The pair have got to know each other over the past few seasons, a liaison which began when Sodhi was invited to bowl at Vettori, and then alongside him, in Auckland.

Vettori, who began jogging this week after his latest operation to repair a troublesome Achilles, was a key figure in Sodhi throwing in his lot with Northern Districts, having been unable to get much traction in Auckland.

"I've been trying to spread the message to our guys for a while," Vettori said. "He loves bowling and has really worked hard on not becoming one-dimensional.

"He's the sort of guy who loves cricket and just wants to bowl and bowl. He's got a fantastic attitude."

His numbers don't sing off the page yet - 24 wickets at 48 apiece - but expect that to improve with time. Sodhi was surprised, but chuffed by his elevation.

"It's something you always aspire to do and hope it'll come around at some point," he said yesterday.

Reports from the current New Zealand A tour of India, in which he was rated a more consistent performer than his rival, Todd Astle, helped his cause.

"In the last game I didn't get a wicket but got through 24 overs and felt really good," he said. "I guess it was all about the process than the outcome in that game."

Sodhi, who was born in the Punjab region of India but at 4 moved to New Zealand with his family, wants to blend the lessons of the Bangladesh trip along with, as he put it, "doing my job".

"I'm going to try and live in the moment. I'm going to learn but I want to contribute to the side, and hopefully win a game."

He's also hit four first-class half centuries to demonstrate his all- round talents.

Fellow test debutant, allrounder Corey Anderson looks a comer, too, and is already a limited-overs international. His belligerent left-hand batting is rated important in a country where left arm spin is likely to be a dominant feature among the home team's attack.

Martin Guptill and Tim Southee are sidelined by injury, although coach Mike Hesson said Southee might be fit for the second test in Dhaka.

Whether the selectors are prepared to risk him at the start of a busy summer may be the determining factor.

Those two aside, the squad is the same as for England three months ago.

Players who didn't perform in that 2-0 series loss have another chance in vastly different conditions.

New Zealand will head to Sri Lanka for a training camp this month.

Test squad

New Zealand test squad for Bangladesh

Brendon McCullum (c), Hamish Rutherford, Peter Fulton, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Dean Brownlie, Corey Anderson, Tom Latham, BJ Watling, Ish Sodhi, Bruce Martin, Doug Bracewell, Neil Wagner, Mark Gillespie, Trent Boult.

Schedule

Bangladesh tour

Oct 4-6: Warm-up fixture, Chittagong.

Oct 9-13: First test, Chittagong

Oct 21-25: Second test, Chaka

Oct 29: First ODI, Dhaka

Nov 1: Second ODI, Dhaka

Nov 4: Third ODI, Fatullah

Nov 6: T20, Sylhet, subject to venue confirmation

Sri Lanka tour

Nov 10: First ODI, Hambantota

Nov 12: Second ODI, Hambantota

Nov 16: Third ODI, Dambulla

Nov 19: First T20, Kandy
Nov 21: Second T20, Kandy

- NZ Herald

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