Blackcaps v Pakistan: Ish Sodhi screamer sets tone for comprehensive New Zealand T20 victory

Chasing a mammoth target of 227 runs on Eden Park's generous boundaries, Pakistan seemed well in control of their opening Twenty 20 international against New Zealand at 90/2 after eight overs.

Dangermen Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman seemed set at the crease, 27 runs into a third-wicket partnership that had them on pace with the required run rate, despite chasing a record target.

A piece of individual magic from spinner Ish Sodhi broke the bond and proved the turning point of an innings that fell away, as regular wickets began to erode their pursuit.

Ish Sodhi celebrates his caught-and-bowled dismissal of Fakhar Zaman.
Ish Sodhi celebrates his caught-and-bowled dismissal of Fakhar Zaman. Photo credit: Photosport

With the opening ball of his second over, Sodhi dished up a full delivery that Fakhar tried to play through covers, but succeeded in finding the bowler diving to his left from a brilliant reflex catch that triggered an emotional celebration.

"He call himself 'Gluehands'," reflected teammate Daryl Mitchell. "He has a habit of taking speccies like that at times and he reminds us.

"Always love seeing him celebrate the way he does as well." 

Old stickyfingers also had a hand in the fourth wicket to fall, catching a gentle top-edge from Iftkhar Ahmed off the bowling of Tim Southee at fine leg.  

"There are obviously a lot of little moments throughout games that you can look back on and say, 'What if, what might have been'," said Mitchell. "I just thought the way the boys fielded was really special.

"Ben Sears diving on the boundary a couple of times... things like that are what we really pride ourselves on as New Zealanders and that's what we want to keep seeing within our group."

If Mitchell teases Sodhi on his self-proclaimed fielding expertise, he's also quick to restate his own claims as an allrounder in the Blackcaps line-up.

Asked about the selection of five specialist bowlers for the match, he quickly corrects the interviewer: "Five-and-a-half."

Now regarded as a top-order batsman in white-ball cricket, the right-arm medium pacer has bowled just 15 overs for eight wickets across 80 T20 internationals, with an economy rate of marginally below 10 an over.

Still, Mitchell continues to live in hope.

Join Newshub at 7:10pm Sunday for live updates of the Blackcaps v Pakistan second T20