Andrew Gourdie: Why Ish Sodhi is right World Cup pick for Blackcaps

OPINION: One trait that defined the history-making Blackcaps team at the 2015 Cricket World Cup was the boldness with which they approached the tournament.

Aggression at the top of the order was matched by swing and speed at the bowling crease, all of it underpinned by Brendon McCullum’s assertive and dynamic leadership.

The Blackcaps squad for this year’s tournament is strong - it’s stacked with quality - but there’s a nagging feeling it may lack the 'x-factor' required to make a serious impact in England.  

That’s why Ish Sodhi’s inclusion is so important.

Sodhi has x-factor. He is the type of player that makes fans sit forward in your seat.

He has the ability to make things happen and his teammates know it.

There’s no telling how valuable that intangible quality might be when the opposition have put together a 70, 80-run partnership and are threatening to run away with the game in the middle overs of a World Cup semi-final.

He doesn’t always get it right. Sodhi had a chance to slam the door shut on his World Cup selection during the summer, but he didn’t take it.

For that reason, Todd Astle moved into the selection frame as the second spinner to complement Mitchell Santner.

Similar to the way Colin Munro tried to transfer T20 form to the one-day arena, Sodhi also struggled to replicate his success at the shortest format of the game in the 50-over game.

Granted, he was bowling against an excellent Indian team that will be among the favourites to lift the World Cup come July and proved far too good for the Blackcaps over the summer. In two defeats at Mount Maunganui, Sodhi couldn’t break through against the likes of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli.

But Wednesday's selection shows that, if faced with the same situation again at the World Cup, Sodhi is still the man the team wants with them in the trenches to remove a world-class player from the crease.

Todd Astle is an excellent player and he absolutely deserved to be in the discussion with Sodhi. He has every right to feel aggrieved about missing out.

But no team goes to a World Cup to compete. The Blackcaps should be there to win.

Statistics and form should be considered when it comes to selections, but ultimately, decisions should be based on which players can win games of cricket for New Zealand.

That is the bold attitude required to reach the business end of the tournament. Sodhi is the bold selection that can make the impact the Blackcaps are looking for.

Andrew Gourdie is a sports presenter for Newshub.