Inderbir Singh Sodhi, or just Ish Sodhi — skipper Virat Kohli and Team India will remember his name for years to come after what the 29-year-old New Zealand spinner of Indian origin did to the side in the do-or-die clash here on Sunday evening.
The tall leg-spinner not only snuffed out India’s challenge with his tight bowling — conceding 17 runs in his four overs — he also took the prized wickets of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli to restrict the 2007 World T20 champions to a paltry 110, which the Black Caps chased down in 14.3 overs for the loss of two wickets.
Come to think of it, the Ludhiana-born spinner, who has honed his skills watching YouTube videos of Shane Warne and Anil Kumble, achieved the feat on his birthday.
Sodhi moved with his parents to New Zealand when aged four, learning to bowl leg-spin under the tutelage of former Black Caps all-rounder Dipak Patel while using YouTube to study Shane Warne, Stuart McGill and Anil Kumble.
Those lessons appear to be working for Sodhi, who is also a part-time rapper, and in the shortest format of the game there are few better. While Tim Southee and Trent Boult may be the star names in the New Zealand attack, Sodhi proved once again that he is a crucial cog in the team. And skipper Kane Williamson appreciated the value of his leg-spinner.
“Ish is an outstanding T20 bowler, white-ball bowler in particular. He’s been a big part of our side for a long period of time and he’s played in a number of comps (competitions) around the world so he’s really experienced. Those two spinners (Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner), through the middle for us have been huge and when you come to these conditions you do expect spin to play a big part.”
With the wickets in the UAE conducive to spin, it is increasingly clear that slow bowlers will have a huge influence on this tournament. Sodhi has proven time and again that he should be considered up there with the very best of them. In fact, only Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan and Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan have taken more T20I wickets by spinners than Sodhi’s 77.
With two more wickets and a ‘Player of the Match’ display against India, the cricketing world would certainly have taken notice of just how devastating Sodhi can be.
In tandem with spin partner Mitchell Santner, Sodhi was able to create the pressure that starved India of boundary-scoring opportunities and brought the innings to a standstill.Such was the pressure that even a bad ball from Sodhi ended up taking a wicket — Rohit Sharma’s timing thrown off by the variations in pace and flight as the Indian batter lofted a short ball outside off straight to Martin Guptill at long-on.
Kohli did the same, with Trent Boult pouching the India skipper at long-on. Sodhi’s 19 wickets against India are the most by any bowler against them in the format, and his figures of 2/17 on October 31 were part of a stifling bowling display — on his 29th birthday.