In the second over of his first spell, Ish Sodhi made an impact on the game when he scalped a fluent Armaan Jaffer. The 17-year-old was cruising at 69 in the middle before he was undone by a probing length, and decent turn, from the leggie. Pitched around the fourth stump, the ball spun, not sharply but enough, to take Jaffer’s edge and Luke Ronchi took a regulation catch behind the stumps.
A quality 69-run innings came to an end. The youngster possibly played the knock of his life as he was up against a quality New Zealand attack with the likes of Trent Boult, Ish Sodhi and others. Jaffer’s walk back to the pavillion was an unusual one. Head down, he was slowly making his way to the tunnel heading to the dressing room but the loud cheer would have certainly got his attention.
No, it wasn’t for him but for the gentleman who came out to bat next. There weren’t many spectators at Kotla on a hot afternoon but enough to make plenty of noise when Rohit Sharma made his way out to the middle. Rohit took guard for what was going to be a very crucial period for him.
He scored a couple of 30s in the Duleep Trophy final but was yet to have an ideal outing before the Test series gets underway in Kanpur on September 22. Here he was. At the Kotla, on a bit dry surface and was ready to face Sodhi. The first ball was safely dealt with and the crowd gave another loud cheer when Rohit engaged in mid-pitch conversation with his partner Kaustubh Pawar.
What followed next was a scratchy period for Rohit. The 29-year-old was troubled by Sodhi who varied his pace, and length, well during the opening spell. Rohit would play and miss, fish tentatively outside the off-stump and go for needless drives, very early in the innings.
Eight dot balls and Rohit’s eyes lit up when Sodhi tossed one up. The right-hander made good connection and struck it powerfully to get off the mark with a maximum. Another loud cheer, another mid-pitch conversation and Rohit took his guard again.
The six, however, didn’t affect Sodhi’s plans. Rohit was still not comfortable in the middle and tight spells further helped New Zealand’s cause. In the 52nd over of the innings, Rohit charged Sodhi but the leg-spinner pulled his length back a bit and all the right-hander could do was offer a forward defensive shot.
With the sun completely out, the surface had begun to wear a dry look and it was turning, not big but enough. After an unsuccessful step-out attempt Rohit went for it again, in the very same over.
Sodhi didn’t alter his length this time around. Pitched around the fourth-stump region, the ball turned enough to beat a charging Rohit and Watling neatly collected the ball behinds the stumps and whipped the bails in a flash to dismiss the right-hander.
Rohit’s last proper hit before joining the team at Green Park lasted a painful 43 minutes and he could score only 18 runs during his stay on the crease. It was disappointing.
Not the lack of runs but the manner in which he got out. While his teammates, much younger and inexperienced, put a price on their wicket, Rohit threw it away. When umpire called stumps, Rohit and Jay Bista were the only two batsmen not to hit fifty against New Zealand.