Twenty-year-old legspinner Ish Sodhi's progress has impressed New Zealand coach Mike Hesson, and he has earmarked the bowler as one for the future. However, the team was still missing the services of Daniel Vettori, who has not played Test cricket for over a year due to an Achilles tendon injury, Hesson admitted.
Sodhi and left-arm spinner Bruce Martin combined to take only five wickets in the first Test against Bangladesh, in Chittagong, while part-timer offspinner Kane Williamson picked up one wicket. Williamson was introduced before the two specialist spinners in the second innings, but that was mostly down to having the left-handed Tamim Iqbal at the crease. Sodhi later picked up the wicket of Marshall Ayub to a delivery which he tried to play from deep inside the crease but missed it to be adjudged leg-before.
He had conceded 112 runs at 3.88 per over in the first innings, where he looked innocuous at times. In the second innings he was more attacking, and gave away 57 runs at 5.51 per over. Hesson believed there is something about Sodhi that is exciting. "I thought he got better as the Test went on," Hesson said. "Ish is 20, a young man. He was nervous. He learned a lot. He created a number of opportunities.
"On a surface that didn't have a lot of bounce, he hit the gloves a couple of times. He is a good prospect for us. He is not a finished product yet, but he is worth investing in for the future."
Sodhi was also highly recommended by Vettori himself ahead of the Bangladesh series. It was Vettori who invited Sodhi to bowl at a trial in Auckland, after which they became team-mates.
Vettori is in another class, though, Hesson said. "He is a fine performer. Any side that New Zealand puts out without Dan Vettori is a weaker side. That's just the fact."
Vettori's record against Bangladesh provides several reasons to miss him. He has taken 51 wickets in nine Tests against them, 34 of which have come in four Tests in Bangladesh. His batting average is 40.62 against them, with three fifties. "Any side would miss Dan Vettori, and we have been without Dan for a little while now," Hesson said.
Hesson was pleased with his side's batting effort in both innings. New Zealand posted a competitive 469 in the first innings, with Williamson showing his ability to dictate against spin in the subcontinent. He made 114 and 74, top scores in both innings. Wicketkeeper BJ Watling too scored a century, the second of his Test career.
"I am really pleased with Kane Williamson. He got a great hundred in P Sara last year. He plays spin well," Hesson said. "He timed the ball nicely on a wicket where scoring three an over was tough. He looked at ease.
"After a bit of fortune early on, BJ [Watling] also played very well. He trained a lot in the winter. We are all delighted for him. He showed his skills in these conditions."
Both teams will now go into a three-day break as there are two major religious festivals on in Bangladesh: the Durga Puja will be ending this week, with Eid-ul-Adha starting on October 16. New Zealand will not be training for three days, until Friday.
"We have plenty of things planned for the next few days," Hesson said. "We have a chance to freshen up, get some physical work done in the gym.
"We will also do a bit of scouting. Our guys enjoy the travelling side of international cricket. We want to get to know different cultures as much as we can. I think we won't be spending three days in the hotel."