NZ v WI, ICC U-19 World Cup, quarter-final, Townsville

'We all dog-piled onto Ish' - Cam Fletcher

George Binoy in Townsville

August 21, 2012

Comments: 12 | Text size: A | A

New Zealand players celebrate after winning a thriller against West Indies, New Zealand v West Indies, quarter-final, ICC Under-19 World Cup 2012, Townsville, August 20, 2012
Ish Sodhi: "I just went out and celebrated real big and saw the team rushing at me" © ICC/Getty

Ish Sodhi, New Zealand's No. 8, walked out to bat with his team needing 26 off 15 balls to win the quarter-final against a formidable West Indian pace attack at Endeavour Park. As he went in, Sodhi says his coach Matt Horne gave him a wink; he winked back, and doesn't really remember too much after that.

Chasing 238, the equation had come down to New Zealand requiring 22 runs off the last two overs. Ronsford Beaton, one of the best bowlers of the World cup so far, was bowling the 49th. He conceded only four runs off the first five balls, and had the well-set Cam Fletcher caught off the sixth.

"Yeah. Especially because we lost Cam Fletcher, who was in," said Sodhi, when asked if he felt that 18 runs off the last over might be too many to get. "He was on 49 and after that I felt a little bit of pressure, but when it came down to the last over it was do-or-die really. Nothing else really crossed my mind."

Before this match, Sodhi had scored nine runs in two innings in the World Cup. He hit the first ball off the last over, bowled by allrounder Justin Greaves, for four but New Zealand managed only two off the next two balls, leaving them 12 to get off the last three.

The first of those went for six over square leg. "We were all sitting on the sidelines and we were backing him [Sodhi] a lot," said Fletcher, who hadn't bothered taking off his pads. "The first he got, it was probably a full ball around middle or leg stump, he [Greaves] was trying to bowl a yorker and he [Sodhi] just picked it up off his legs. It's a massive boundary out there and he cleared it, over deep square leg and into one of the tents that was out the back."

Sodhi managed two off the penultimate delivery, and New Zealand needed a boundary of the last one to enter the semi-finals. He sent it to the midwicket boundary. "Originally I was trying to hit it over cover and I opened up the front leg, but he [Greaves] bowled a low full toss on my legs and I hit it over midwicket. I had the front leg open, he bowled straight and I took advantage of that.

"Until about half way the ball was in the air, I didn't really look because I saw the fielder hadn't given up on it. I don't remember anything from then, I just went out and celebrated real big and saw the team rushing at me. It was only a while ago but I still can't believe that it actually happened."

Sodhi's cameo, 22 off 10 balls, had helped New Zealand pull off the highest successful chase of this Under-19 World Cup, and against perhaps the best bowling attack on show in Queensland.

"When I got out I was devastated, said Fletcher. "But after the first hit that Ish hit for the six, that was amazing. We were just sitting back in our seats and sure we could actually do this. When he hit those runs, everyone just ran onto the field. We all dog-piled onto Ish, everyone was on there. It's probably the best game everyone in our side has ever played in; I know for me certainly it was. It was probably cricket wise, the greatest experience of my life."

Fletcher himself had played an important role in setting up the finish for Sodhi. After Ben Horne had steered New Zealand through the first half of the innings, Robert O'Donnell and Fletcher took over at 104 for 4 and paced the chase. They were slow to begin with - West Indies' bowling was that good - but didn't let a rising asking-rate fluster them too much. When O'Donnell was dismissed in the 42nd over, New Zealand needed 81 off 49 balls. The fifth-wicket partnership of 53 runs had taken 103 balls.

"It was really difficult," said Fletcher about batting against the West Indies' quicks. "We played them in a warm-up game earlier and we knew they had firepower in their bowling attack. Early on they bowled quick, short and they were trying to scare us. And to be fair they probably did that. Their bowling attack is superb and they are probably the ones to really look out for in terms of the firepower and bounce and speed that they have. They are an aggressive unit.

"But Ben Horne coped with that very well and he hit a couple of good balls out of the middle. He got them to bowl in different areas, which was awesome. Robert O'Donnell, he batted well today as well. It just made it easier for us towards the end just to be able to change their lengths up."

When O'Donnell was dismissed, Connor Neyens joined Fletcher and didn't take long to attack West Indies. New Zealand needed 66 runs off the last six overs and they got 15 and 14 off the first two of those. "We were nervous about it. We got ourselves stuck a little bit through the middle period," said Fletcher. "Against Australia, we played a quad series earlier in the year and we fought back. We fell four runs short with 100 off the last 10 overs, so we knew we could do it."

Neyens and Fletcher took New Zealand closer but were dismissed in successive overs, leaving the stage for Sodhi, who stunned a West Indian side that had won their group matches with powerful performances.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (August 22, 2012, 19:57 GMT)

Well done kiwi's please replace the senior side which is killing the kiwi cricket standards

Posted by   on (August 22, 2012, 4:20 GMT)

Ish you have done yourself and us at Papatoetoe High School proud.Keep up the fine work!!!!!!!!

Posted by   on (August 21, 2012, 20:11 GMT)

We should have won that one. Eighteen runs in the last over, is asking a lot. I really like the 10th para. though.

Posted by   on (August 21, 2012, 13:37 GMT)

Very Good win for kiwis. Nice to see Kiwis and Windies team are coming up. Cricket needs nations like these. Cricket is now mainly focussed in India, England , Australia and South Africa. Hope these youngsters keep improving and become next Crowes,hadlees, Garners and Marshalls and Richards...

Posted by kaidranzer on (August 21, 2012, 9:43 GMT)

NZ somehow always manages to do well in global tournaments, be it the junior or the senior team. It would be really good for cricket if they can replicate this in their bilateral series. The already exciting period in world cricket, with no clear No.1 team in any format, will become even more exciting with a strong New Zealand side. Same goes for the West Indies.

Posted by WalterHP on (August 21, 2012, 8:21 GMT)

Windies.....what a muck up

Posted by Naresh28 on (August 21, 2012, 7:50 GMT)

India could do with players like Ish Sodhi(NZ) and Sandhu (oz) . Well done NZ I hope this restores your confidence. Going forward I hope a lot of you guys go thru to the senior team. NZ always comes up with wins which are few but hard fought games.

Posted by   on (August 21, 2012, 6:26 GMT)

West Indies attack was lucky to bowl first till this game. The writer ignored the pitch and conditions before calling them 'formidable'. they will be (and already have) exposed when their attack bowls on a 250 pitch rather than a sub 200 scoring pitch.

Posted by Kiwi_Craig on (August 21, 2012, 6:10 GMT)

Well done Junior Blackcaps great effort. Good luck in semi finals

Posted by Porky_PigTheToon on (August 21, 2012, 5:48 GMT)

Nice article ! NZ always performs good in Big Tournaments. Be it U 19 team or Senior team.

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George BinoyClose
George Binoy Assistant Editor After a major in Economics and nine months in a financial research firm, George realised that equity, capital and the like were not for him. He decided that he wanted to be one of those lucky few who did what they love at work. Alas, his prodigious talent was never spotted and he had to reconcile himself to the fact that he would never earn his money playing cricket for his country, state or even district. He jumped at the opportunity to work for ESPNcricinfo and is now confident of mastering the art of office cricket
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