How does Ish Sodhi get more game time for New Zealand?

"He needs Mitch Santner to get a broken finger," New Zealand coach Mike Hesson quipped today.

But it is a problem for the in-form legspinner who had been expected to play in the 24-run win over Australia which decided the Chappell Hadlee Trophy at Seddon Park yesterday.

However he was left out, at least partly on the strength of the location of the pitch.
Seddon Park is half Patumahoe clay, which tends to provide fast, bouncier pitches, and half Waikari, which is slower and can take more turn.


The pitch for the Australian game was on the Patumahoe half and Hesson confirmed today Sodhi would have played had the match been on the other side of the block.

Sodhi is becoming something of a cult figure among New Zealand fans. His problem lies partly in the New Zealand pitch conditions.

It is rare for New Zealand to play two genuine spinners at home. It is traditionally a seam bowling country.

Sodhi is in fine touch, snaring six for 11 for Adelaide Strikers in a Big Bash League game in Australia last month and providing a genuine attacking spin option. However a lanky, laidback Northern Districts team mate is in his way.

Santner has become an increasingly significant player in the New Zealand setup. His performance in yesterday's win was a significant factor in the win.

His 38 not out off 34 balls pushed New Zealand's total to a highly competitive 281 for nine, taking 14 off the last three balls of the innings from left arm quick Mitchell Starc.

His compelling first eight overs went for just 19 runs to tie up Australia at an
important point in their chase.

He was then drop kicked into the crowd three times in his ninth by Pat Cummins and Starc and finished with two for 50 from his 10 overs.

"He's our No 1 spinner and world class," Hesson said of Santner.

"It's difficult in New Zealand to play two spinners. It's not a regular occurrence with our surfaces but we're delighted way (Sodhi) has responded in last month or so."

Bowling coach Shane Jurgensen, while stressing he's not a selector, is sure Sodhi will be sighted during the South African tour, which starts with the solitary T20 at Eden Park on February 19.

That visit, the centrepiece of the New Zealand summer also includes five ODIs and three tests.

"He's had a great summer," Jurgensen said of Sodhi. "He got to be exposed to some fantastic opportunities in the Big Bash and there's been a great shift in his focus.

''He had a tough winter with the Zimbabwe and Indian tours last year and certainly showed some promise. But consistency was the key over a longer period.

"We'll certainly need his skills and, depending on selections, there's definitely an opportunity to play."

Sodhi's ODI record - 13 wickets in 13 games at 43 - isn't flash and he hasn't been sighted since playing India at Visakhapatnam in October.

But he's a cracker in the T20 format. Sodhi took five for 58 in two games against Bangladesh and with 21 wickets in 12 T20s at 14.4 should be a strong chance for the Eden Park clash.