Cricket: Spinner makes early claims for T20 spot

By David Leggat

Sodhi so good after impressing in opening clash against Sri Lanka.
Ish Sodhi has had a stop-start international cricket career, having lost his test spot in 2014 and played few ODIs and T20s. Picture / Photosport
Ish Sodhi has had a stop-start international cricket career, having lost his test spot in 2014 and played few ODIs and T20s. Picture / Photosport

Danushka Gunathilaka was set and flying along, determined to carry Sri Lanka out of a hole and on to a remarkable victory at Bay Oval this week.

The dashing left-hand opener had got to 46 in 28 balls in the first T20 international on Thursday when he tried to turn a ball from legspinner Ish Sodhi towards mid-wicket.

He was fooled. It was Sodhi's googly, perfectly pitched and which spun and took the leading edge of Gunathilaka's bat and ballooned to point.

Next ball, Sodhi beat the capable hitter Thisara Perera clean as a whistle with another ball which went the other way.

As a early application form for a trip to the world T20 in India in March, it was impressive.

There's plenty of cricket to be played before then, and other spinners will be given a chance to present their credentials.

But Sodhi, whose international career has started and stopped in the past couple of years, did himself no harm at Mt Maunganui.

Sodhi also had the trust of captain Kane Williamson on Thursday. Willliamson could have plumped for medium pace options in the closing overs as Sri Lanka eyed an ever-diminishing target.

Instead, he tossed the ball to his legspinner for the 16th and 18th overs. Sodhi had earlier conceded just 12 altogether in the eighth and 10th overs of the innings.

Now was a different challenge. He went for 10 and 11 runs but could have had Nuwan Kulasekera caught on the fence, the ball eluding the fielder's grasp.

One for 33 in four overs could easily have been two for 27. Narrow margins and selectors see these things and take them into account.

In the ODI two days earlier, again Sodhi was recalled for the 42nd and 45th overs when the heat was on.

He conceded just three in the 42nd, while his final delivery in the 45th was clutched by Trent Boult as he fell across the deep mid-wicket boundary. There's those margins again.

"If you look at T20 competitions around the world, spinners play a big role and leg spin generally is seen as quite an attacking option - and if the wicket is turning, quite effective at the death," Sodhi, 23, said.

"It's a role I enjoy playing at domestic level."

Attacking or defensive-minded? Sodhi reckons a spinner needs adaptability, depending on the situation.

"If you're coming off a good powerplay and you've got a couple of wickets, then maybe you can afford to be a little more attacking.

"Generally you shouldn't change the way you bowl. But it's a fast moving game and can change in the space of an over."

Sodhi's T20 numbers are encouraging, albeit off a small sample. In five games, he's taken six wickets at 21.

He lost his test place late in 2014 when his 11 matches had produced 27 wickets at a pricey 52. In nine ODIs, he's taken seven wickets at 55, but the shortest form seems to work for him.

"He did well," New Zealand bowling coach Dimitri Mascarenhas said of Sodhi's effort on Thursday. "He's been doing a good job ever since he came into the set-up a few months ago. He's getting better and better; it's just time for him to step it up a bit and be really consistent."

Set aside offspinners, or left arm orthodox and two other legspinners are in the frame - Canterbury's Todd Astle and Auckland's Tarun Nethula.

Both have been in the international game. Astle, 29, played one test in Colombo in 2012 and is a steady performer for Canterbury; Nethula, 32, had five ODIs in 2012, taking five expensive wickets, but can point to tidy domestic numbers.

Still, Sodhi has the first opportunity to press his claims.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 28 Oct 2016 18:02:28 Processing Time: 559ms