It was an unusual sight to find a New Zealand cricketer talking in the local Punjabi dialect to a young trainee at the Punjab Cricket Stadium (PCA) Stadium during the practice nets ahead of Sunday’s third ODI.
But Kiwi leg spinner Inderbir Sodhi aka Ish Sodhi was born in Ludhiana and hence has his roots in Punjab. In the end, this is what the young trainee Saurabh told the Kiwi bowler, “Paaji tussi kamaal bowling karde ho. Tussi World Twenty20 ch bada wadiya khele. (You bowl really well. You were exceptional during the World T20).”
Being the first India-born cricketer to play for New Zealand, Sodhi has a big fan following in the country among the South Asians. And when India take on New Zealand on Sunday, a small section of Indian fans will be rooting for the visitors, and Sodhi if he gets to play.
RELATIVES FLOCK IN
A group of 15-17 relatives who have travelled from Khanna, Phillaur and Panchkula gathered in a Chandigarh hotel on Saturday evening to catch up with the star of their family. They also included Ish’s father Dr Raj Sodhi, the player’s 79-year-old grandmother Gurdeep Kaur Sodhi and cousins. The re-union of the Sodhi family will extend to Sunday when the whole bunch watches the day/night match and cheers for the Kiwis.
Speaking to HT, Ish’s relative, a former cricketer, Gaurav Chibber, said, “Cricket brings us closer to Ish. He is our gem. Whenever he is in Mohali for cricket, we all get together as a family and catch up. I hope he is in the playing XI on Sunday and takes lots of wickets for New Zealand. We are very proud of him.” It is for the third time that Ish will be playing at the Mohali ground. He last played for New Zealand against Pakistan in the World T20 in March.
Sodhi played in the first ODI at Dharamsala and took one wicket. The 23-year-old was also part of the New Zealand Test team and played in the first Test at Kanpur.
He started as a pacer but switched to spin during a coaching clinic in Auckland conducted by former New Zealand off-spinner Dipak Patel. Sodhi now trains under the former left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori. He made his Test debut against Bangladesh in 2013 at Chittagong.
Pacers are expected to have a big say in the match, but the crowd would sure love to see one of their own, though turning out for the visiting side, to play and have an impact in the game.