Ten games in the second edition of the GT20 league and it’s hard to say who was the most effective batsman. It rained four and six at the CAA Center – and at no point was the onslaught so intense as when Chris Gayle scored an unbeaten 122 for Vancouver Knights – but the wealth has gotten around.
However, there is little doubt about the most effective bowler. And it’s a leg spinner who has been at the top of the charts in almost every bowling category.
Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for the New Zealand leg spinner Ish Sodhi.
Fly, spin, drive, change tempo: In three games he has pulled the ball on a string through the spells. First, there was a five-door train and five more gates in the next two games.
Batsmen were beaten by flight, spin, rebound and variations. He took advantage of the breeze as well as the jump he was able to get out of his great height, and let the batsmen guess throughout. In a tournament, 203 sixes – and a plethora of fours – were beaten in ten games, he has ended with a saving rate of just over 5.
A few things we learned about Ish this week:
He did not know much about Brampton until he boarded the plane and googled the area. Just to see that there was one of the largest populations of Punjabis outside of Punjab.
He played his first game in two hours of sleep. “I think it simplifies things,” he said in the end, after receiving the Man-of-the-Match award. “You’re pretty tired and you’re trying to focus on getting as much energy as possible, it can help you too.”
In the first game he rolled into the wind and knew that the leg-side boundary was the shorter of the two. “The idea was to keep the ball as far away from the batsmen as possible. And I tried to hold back the length as well. Often batsmen in T20 beat the ball six times over, even when they’re a bit full. So you try to keep things simple. “
The first batsman he dismissed in this tournament – Anton Devcich – was a “big influence” on his career. “Divi was a high-ranking player when I joined the Northern Districts lineup, and we were always competitive on the nets. It was nice to defeat someone whom I consider a really big influence. “His excitement was evident when he passed the bill: he hurried to his captain Colin Munro to celebrate the moment.
In his second game, Ish reversed three batsmen with his extra jump – Faf du Plessis and Ben Cutting struck something that looked like harmless long hops, but was actually balls that bounced. Du Plessis got a top edge to the short third man, and Cutting got a top edge to the deep center roof. In Ish’s next lap, Jimmy Neesham tried to cut a short one, which was thrown away outside. And another top edge appeared in the hands of Shahid Afridi just before the third man.
Ish and his captain at the Brampton Wolves, Colin Munro, go back a long way. “I saw Ish as a 13-year-old prodigy coming through the ages,” Munro said. “I’ve seen him at my club and he’s been getting better and better since then, I think he’s one of the best leg spinners in the world and I do not think he gets that much credit for it.”
Munro says he does not have to do much to get the most out of Ish. “It’s great for me to have him as captain because I believe in him so much,” he said today at the end of the game. “I say,” Ish, I want you to throw your best ball. Your best leg spinner is better than anyone in the world. Get out and do your thing. “
Ish only played one game at the World Cup – against Australia at Lords. Still, from the dressing room, he watched his teammates attend one of the most exciting games in ODI history. Was it easy for him to come to Canada so soon after such a big break in his hearing?
“After the World Cup, it was actually quite exhausting,” he says. “It took me about a week to get over the disappointment. It was such a surreal fight to be in the World Cup final. Getting here and participating in this tournament is a really good distraction. It helps me to distract myself from what happened. It gives me a new challenge. “