There's still more than a little confidence about New Zealand's new spin hope Ish Sodhi.
Not the Neil Wagner barking at the batsmen confidence, or the Tim Southee swagger when he's getting the ball to talk, but a quiet confidence that he's contributing and, more importantly for him, developing.
Sodhi, 21, bowled 28 overs yesterday as the West Indies - more specifically Darren Bravo and his 210 not out - dragged the opening test out to a fifth day. The tourists will resume this morning on 443-6 with a lead of 47.
Sodhi took just one wicket yesterday with a clever googly which sneaked through Denesh Ramdin's bat and pad.
His 2-130 for the innings and 4-193 from the match aren't figures he'll recall as his favourites at the end of his career, but a day in the field bowling to an in-form batsman in trying conditions spins this kid's wheels.
He loves the challenge and loves being part of the test team.
''I wouldn't have minded a few more overs, but it's all good,'' he said assessing his own day.
This is just his third test, but Sodhi is now and for the foreseeable future, the side's senior spinner. He's charged with winning, or at least helping to win, test matches.
But there's no legspinners to look up to or work with. On the recent New Zealand A tour, he roomed with Canterbury's Todd Astle and the pair talked shop. ntsGplentynte
He lists Daniel Vettori as an idol and he's worked with the former New Zealand captain, but his two biggest advisors are former Black Caps who never bowled a ball of legspin in their lives - Shane Bond and Paul Wiseman.
Bond, the New Zealand bowling coach, is learning the spin side of things as he goes, but is a big help, Sodhi said, while Wiseman, an offspinner who played 25 tests and 186 first-class games, is spending more and more time with the country's leading tweakers.
''He's been pretty instrumental for me in the past couple of years and sort of [helps me] devise plans and sort of gauge information on how they're going to play on certain surfaces, paces to bowl at etc, and it's all sort of worked out all right so far.''
It's clear Sodhi takes his craft seriously, that's obvious by the way he tries to set batsmen up and use those plans.
It worked for the wickets of Shane Shillingford in the first innings and Kirk Edwards and Ramdin in the second where he bamboozled them.
''When you plan something and it comes off, it's more satisfying. So I'm pretty happy with how those two [Edwards and Ramdin] went. It would be good to come away with another couple.''
Should Sodhi earn the now crucial wicket of Bravo and help finally end the West Indies second innings, he'll rise further in everyone's estimations and likely join Neil Wagner, Hamish Rutherford and Corey Anderson as first time test winners.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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