Friday, December 23, 2022

Ish Sodhi says Pakistan's 'special' for him

NZ leggie says Pakistan are a very strong side despite the whitewash against England

New Zealand leg spinner Ish Sodhi at the National Bank Cricket Aren Karachi on December 23, 2022. — Reporter
New Zealand leg spinner Ish Sodhi at the National Bank Cricket Aren Karachi on December 23, 2022. — Reporter

New Zealand’s spinner Ish Sodhi said on Friday that Pakistan is special for him as his grandmother lived in Pakistani Punjab before moving to India

“My grandmother was born in the Punjab side of Pakistan, the same as my mom's father. So pretty much half Pakistani, like so,” Sodhi told Geo News about his connection with Pakistan.

The Kiwis Test team landed in Karachi on Thursday for a historic tour — after 18 years — of two Tests and three ODIs. 

The leggie said that he is looking forward to contributing to his team as much as possible during the two-match Test series against Pakistan, which starts in Karachi on 26th December.

The 30-year-old spinner, who was recalled to the Test side after four years, said that his grandmother lived in Pakistan before moving to India, and coming to this country is special for him.

“It's cool to be able to come back and connect with the culture here, the people have been friendly and warm, and I'm trying to keep developing my Punjabi. I've got a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter. I want her to learn some Punjabi, so I've got to keep developing those skills. So, it's good to be here,” he said.

“Look, I'm trying hard, you know, I don't want to make my mum upset by saying something wrong, but I'm like, I'm just going to keep on developing,” he said when asked if he would like to say something in Punjabi.

Replying to a question, the Ludhiana-born New Zealand cricketer said that he is planning a visit to Pakistan with his father to reconnect with their relatives.

Sodhi added that he was also excited to be playing against a “very strong” Pakistani side and was looking forward to learning the conditions here.

He added that despite being defeated by England three-nil, Pakistan is a very strong side, and he believed that Pakistan played good cricket against England.

He ruled out the possibility that Pakistan’s result against England gave New Zealand an edge over the home side.

“I think the way that England played was amazing cricket. I think they're at the peak of their powers at the moment. They performed well and played a brand of cricket that I don't think we've ever seen in Test cricket, so they did that well."

"I think Pakistan, although they lost three-nil, played really good cricket throughout the series, especially with the bat. So, hopefully, we can, as a bowling unit and a batting unit, be able to, you know, put up a good competition against them,” he said.

Sodhi will be playing the first Test since 2018, and ahead of the Pakistan tour, he has also modified his action, which he believes will help him generate more pace in the air with the red ball.

“I haven't played a lot of red-ball cricket recently. So, it's just trying to figure out what my game looks like in a red ball format. I want to contribute to the team as much as I can, whether it's with the ball with the bat in the field. And so that's my big goal for the coming series,” he said.

“For a long time, I used to walk into a ball. I think my hero used to be Shane Warne. So, when I was young, I wanted to be like that. But you know, over the last few years, I think especially in T20 Cricket, trying to get a bit more momentum, that's been something I've changed because I've played a lot of T20."

"It's been for white ball cricket, but I think hopefully, in red-ball cricket, it helps me get a bit more pace out of some of these surfaces,” he added.

He hoped that conditions in Pakistan would offer a little bit of help to spinners but did not expect them to be extraordinarily conductive.

“Hopefully, there's a little spin there, but I don't think it's been a hell of many spin conditions. It's more if you can be consistent over a long period. So, I'm just going to try to get something out of the surface, and we can put some pressure on the Pakistani batters,” he concluded.