IPL 2018: Shane Warne mentoring a bonus for Kiwi spinner Ish Sodhi at Rajasthan Royals
Though New Zealand leg-spinner Ish Sodhi went unsold in the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction, an injury to Afghanistan left-arm spinner Zahir Khan gave him a lifeline as he was signed up by Rajasthan Royals. (IPL standings)
While wrist spinners Rashid Khan, Mayank Markande, Yuzvendra Chahal as well as mystery spinners Mujeeb ur Rahman and Sunil Naraine are creating a flutter in IPL 2018 with fine performances, the 25-year-old Sodhi, ranked No 4 among T20 bowlers in the world, is eager to make a mark for Rajasthan Royals.
“The current IPL season got rolling while I was in Auckland. It was heartening to see the wrist spinners making impact in the T20 tournament. I was itching to bowl, and to my surprise, Rajasthan Royals signed me up. Having Shane Warne as a coach was icing on the cake,” said Sodhi, who was acquired at his base price of Rs 50 lakh for his maiden IPL stint.
Born in Ludhiana, Sodhi moved to New Zealand with his family in his formative years and learnt the nuances of the game in Auckland.
“I have spent close to two weeks with Rajasthan Royals. Bowling under the eyes of Shane Warne has been a highlight for me. His inputs will help me become a better spinner. He is always telling me things which are eye-opening,” said Sodhi, whose childhood hero was Anil Kumble.
Sodhi made his Test debut for New Zealand against Bangladesh in 2013. He has played in various T20 leagues across the world, picking up 102 wickets in 92 T20s at an average of 23.09 and economy of 7.66.
Rajasthan Royals though are languishing at the bottom of the table with six points in eight outings.
Sodhi, who took 1/25 in his only IPL game, which Royals lost to Sunrisers Hyderabad, he hopes he can play a crucial role in the remaining matches.
“We need to win almost every game now to qualify for the playoffs. If given a chance, I would like to bowl my four overs in the middle and restrict run flow. In the process of scoring at a fast pace, batsmen ought to make mistakes,” said Sodhi.
Spinners make a mark
SRH’s Rashid Khan though has set the benchmark for leg-spinners in the tournament. “He has been phenomenal. The way he bowls different variations with control is remarkable. He has played a pivotal role in the success of Sunrisers Hyderabad and (skipper) Kane Williamson has backed him.
“T20 had become a batsman-friendly format where scores over 200 came easily, but this IPL has brought spinners into the spotlight. We have seen small totals, less than 150 too.
Spinners have been match-winners and this is not the end, there is more to come,” said Sodhi.
Kings XI Punjab captain and India off-spinner R Ashwin bowling leg-breaks has a fan in Sodhi. “I am a big fan of Ashwin’s leg-breaks. It’s commendable the way he has improvised in an effort to make more impact even after claiming over 500 wickets for India. And the way he has been guiding Mujeeb as an experienced campaigner has reflected in Kings XI Punjab’s success,” added Sodhi.
NZ vs Pakistan series
New Zealand are slated to take on Pakistan in three Tests and five ODIs in UAE, and maybe the only T20 match in Pakistan later this year.
Sodhi, who has played 15 Tests, 22 ODIs and 26 T20s for New Zealand, was eager to make the most of the chance to bowl on spinner-friendly wickets. “It would be a new experience for me bowl on Asian wickets on such a long tour.
“The Pakistan batsmen are good at tackling spin bowling. So it would be more challenging to set a strategy against them. However, it is still not sure whether New Zealand will play in Pakistan,” said Sodhi.
New Zealand last toured Pakistan in 2003, the year after a suicide bombing outside the team’s Karachi hotel killed 15 people.