September 18, 2014 5:48:06 am
For the Punjabis of a Khanna-based family, September 26 is set to be a special day. The date has been inked on their calendar for they have to visit the PCA Stadium in Mohali to attend a Champions League T20 tie. Their loyalties, however, don’t lie with the Kings XI Punjab and with good reason.
Up against the Punjab team is New Zealand domestic outfit, Northern Districts, who have in their squad the 21-year-old leg-spinner Inderbir Sodhi or Ish Sodhi as he is known. The leggie was born in Ludhiana and moved to Auckland with his family when was just four.
For Ish’s 77-year-old grandmother, Gurdeep Kaur Sodhi, and his cousins, the Champions League match will be an opportunity to finally watch in action in a stadium. His father, Raj Singh Sodhi, who is already in Khanna, near Ludhiana, visiting his ailing father, explains, “I have watched Ish play in big matches before but my family based in Punjab have not seen him in action on a big stage. Ish is very attached to his grandmother and when it was decided that Northern Districts would be playing in Mohali, he called up and sounded excited at the prospect of playing in Mohali. Ish’s grandmother is the most thrilled one in the family and she is telling everyone about it. It would have been super if his grandfather would have joined us too, but owing to his ill-health he is not allowed to travel.” Raj is a doctor who works for a NGO back in Auckland.
Speaking with The Indian Express from Raipur, Ish echoed his father’s views. “It is just amazing to win all three games in the ongoing CLT20 and qualify for the next stage. I was keeping my fingers crossed and hoping to qualify and get a chance to play in Mohali. It would be great to be back to my roots and play in front of the family. It would be very special when my grandmother comes to the stadium. I might plan a visit to Khanna and Ludhiana if the schedule permits. My father and mother have seen me play at the big stage but my relatives have not done that yet and just seen me on TV. So, I am excited to meet them and invite them for the game,” he said.
Northern Districts knocked Mumbai Indians on Wednesday night to reach the next stage in Group B. Ish bagged two wickets against the Lahore Lions in the second match of their campaign. He started as a pacer, but switched to spin during a coaching clinic in suburban Auckland conducted by former New Zealand off-spinner Dipak Patel. Ish, who idolises Anil Kumble and Shane Warne, is the first India-born cricketer to have played for New Zealand. He has played eight Test matches and two T20 matches for the Kiwis.
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