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ICC World Cup 2019: Dry summer will make leg-spinners crucial at World Cup - Ish Sodhi

The 26-year-old, playing for Rajasthan Royals in IPL, was picked over fellow leggie Todd Astle by the selectors as one of the spinners.

cricket Updated: Apr 18, 2019 10:23 IST
Shalini Gupta
Shalini Gupta
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
ICC World Cup 2019,World Cup,Ish Sodhi
File image of Ish Sodhi(AP)

Ish Sodhi, New Zealand’s Ludhiana-born leg-spinner, will appear in his first 50-over ICC World Cup in the UK. The 26-year-old, playing for Rajasthan Royals in IPL, was picked over fellow leggie Todd Astle by the selectors as one of the spinners, alongside left-arm Mitchell Santner. Sodhi talks about his plans for the tournament in an interview.

Excerpts

What are New Zealand’s chances of winning the World Cup? What is your mindset?

We have a good chance of doing well in the World Cup. Batsmen like Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson are backed by a good bowling unit. Moreover, the format is very good with each team playing the other (in the preliminary stage). It gives a chance to every team to showcase their best skills. New Zealand can upset some fancied teams. The main focus will be to be consistent and progress to the semifinals; ensure we prepare well and get used to the conditions. We take on India and West Indies in warm-up matches. Both are excellent to test our skills at the start. I want to be part of the World Cup-winning team.

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What role do you see yourself playing with Santner? Can spin be a decisive factor in England ?

I want to be an aggressive bowler in the middle overs. If you want to be a bowler who aims to just contain and not attack you will really struggle, considering the brilliant conditions England has to offer these days. It is best to be aggressive in the middle overs and slow down the run-rate. Figures of anything like 3/70, 3/65 will be ideal for a spinner during the World Cup. Last summer was very dry in England and if that persists, spinners can play a crucial role. It is not easy to go after Mitchell and that is when I benefit. We play for Northern Districts and know each other’s game well. We did well against Sri Lanka as spin partners. It should be fun bowling alongside him in the World Cup.

How has leg-spin evolved in limited-overs? All teams, even in IPL, base bowling plans around leg-spinners.

I would say leg-spin has experienced its re-birth. If you look back at the 2003, 2007, 2011 or even the 2015 World Cup, there weren’t those many leg-spinners. The 2019 World Cup will see maximum leg-spinners in action. Earlier, a lot of teams depended on finger spinners and their success. Nowadays more emphasis is on wrist spinners, who spin the ball both ways. Leg-spinners will have success stories in the 2019 World Cup. When you see Rashid Khan, Yuzvendra Chahal and Imran Tahir doing well in IPL, it is just a treat to watch.

What influence has Shane Warne had on your bowling as Rajasthan Royals mentor for two seasons? How has Stuart McGill (Aussie leggie) made an impact on your career?

Warne was a legendary bowler. The skills he had were definitely tough to pass on; we aren’t that skilled. It was great to have an understanding with him, listen to him and chew his brain when it comes to leg-spin. During the interactions, he gave me his trust for my leg-breaks. He backed the way I focus on my leg-breaks and not go for variations. In T20 cricket, spinners try a lot of variations and experiment. Stuart is a friend and mentor. We became friends during Big Bash League while playing for Adelaide Strikers in 2017. Last summer, I struggled with my form and confidence. That’s when he worked on my bowling and lifted my morale. I was successful against Sri Lanka and India later.

You have played in the T20 Blast for Nottinghamshire for two seasons. Would that help understanding the English conditions well during the World Cup?

Those two seasons have been phenomenal. I have realised it is better to trump the batsman in the air and bowl a bit slow to get the results. It will be my first ODI World Cup, so I am really keen on using the experience I gained in England. I would also be talking and training with Stuart before the World Cup. He has good experience of playing in England. When I started bowling a bit fast, I struggled and lost my rhythm. I like to build that old school art of spin and bowling a bit slow through the air to take wickets.

First Published: Apr 18, 2019 10:20 IST