India in New Zealand 2013-14 February 4, 2014

India-born Sodhi ready for spin examination

Ish Sodhi was born in India and spent his childhood years in the country before migrating with his parents to New Zealand. He could be playing his first match against the Indians at Eden Park in two days' time, and his parents could be watching from the stands. While he feels that will be a special moment, he makes it clear it means a lot to be able to represent New Zealand. Sodhi is only 21, and says it will be his hardest challenge so far to bowl to the Indians, who are such fine players of spin.

"First and foremost the main thing is I might get a chance to play for my country and that is the biggest thing for me," Sodhi said. "And any chance to play India, obviously I was born there (Ludhiana) and it is special being able to play against India because I have a massive Indian heritage. But I am playing against the best players in the world. That is the big thing to come out of it. The players are also very good players of spin. In general Indian batsmen do come hard at spin. It is quite exciting. Emotion is always going to be there.

"It is a very big challenge. Obviously you want to be playing against the best in the world and you want to be challenged, and that is the way you find yourself as a cricketer and a person. Also as a person you put yourself in tough situations. Playing at Eden Park is also special to me."

Sodhi grew up idolizing Anil Kumble and has recently spent some time talking legspin with Shane Warne. He said the biggest takeaway from the meeting was Warne's ability to focus. "As a child you always like to copy bowlers, you try to be Shane Warne, you try to be Anil Kumble. He was my hero growing up. But it is different because you get to a point where you sort of tell yourself 'I can't be like Anil Kumble, I can't be Shane Warne because I'm not built the same way, my mind doesn't work the same way'. So I have to take into account the bigger things they do and sort of make them the best I can make them with the ability that I have.

"The biggest thing for me was that he (Warne) was so balanced about the approach to the game. Whether that be, inside the cricket field or outside the cricket field. He was never really clouding his mind with too many thoughts. But when he did bowl everything he took into account how he was going to bowl that day. That was massive to me, kind of relaxed. You are not the only person under pressure."

As a young bowler, advice comes from all corners, and Sodhi said one had to learn how to filter out the useful bits, although he would keep talking to people who were close to him. "A lot of people do offer you advice, and the way you use that advice is up to you really. Some stuff is really good and some is not helpful. But being young you sort of listen and depending on how tough you are you sort of list things you should and shouldn't do. That is how I am learning as I grow. As I say I am still young and I have quite a lot to learn before I can feel like a whole package.

"I have spoken to a few people like Daniel Vettori, we have spoken a few times about it but not in too much detail. In the next two days I will have a few conversations. Otherwise a lot of people in this team have played a lot of cricket and I will be able to pick their brains."

Sodhi goes into the Tests on the back of a five-wicket haul for Northern Districts against Canterbury. While he said his rhythm was good, he admitted he would have to perform a defensive role as well, especially in the first innings. "(With) legspin you see yourself as an attacking weapon. But I think there are going to be times in the Test series there will be the holding job and I might have to do that. It will be the pace bowlers in the first innings and if it does spin later in the second innings then I might have to (attack). It is about adjusting between those two modes."

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo