Reetinder Singh Sodhi is as interesting as they come in Indian cricket. He figured in two junior World Cup finals, was the man of the match in both, but ended up playing only 18 one-day internationals for his country without featuring in a senior World Cup.
Sodhi, an integral part of India’s first Under-19 World Cup-winning team in 2000, stressed that the current winners must strive to make a mark in first-class cricket. “This win must have given them the self-belief of being good enough to excel.
Five of this victorious 2000 World Cup-winning team went on to play for India... then skipper Mohammad Kaif, dasher Yuvraj Singh, wicketkeeper Ajay Ratra, domestic run-plunderer Venugopal Rao and yes, the industrious and committed Reetinder Singh Sodhi. Notice his bandaged right hand which he bruised while fielding, held upright in jubilation
Now, they must look to score runs and take wickets at the first-class level. This is a huge stepping stone. Many of the players have not played domestic cricket and this win will give them that opportunity,” said Sodhi, who first came to the fore with his match-winning performance in the under-15 Challenge Cup final at Lord’s 16 Augusts ago.
Sodhi claimed three Pakistani batsmen, giving away 34 runs in his 11 overs before blasting an unbeaten 82 to see India home with four wickets to spare. “There has been a lot of attention and media coverage and why not? They have won the World Cup, but getting carried away will not help. It is very important to be level-headed. Keep working hard because sky is the limit for you,” warned Chandigarh-based Sodhi.
Harmeet is special
He is very impressed by Harmeet Singh, who was his Air India roommate for a corporate tournament. “He is an exceptional talent, not afraid to flight the ball to beat the batsman in the air and he can bowl the faster ball with the same action. He is something special,” said Reetinder (31).
Baba Aparajith is another who has impressed him. “Aparajith has solid technique and one must give credit to the BCCI for giving this team the support. They were together for one year, playing tournaments and training hard at camps. Their World Cup win is a big achievement. That they won in Australia shows that they adapted very well and that is not easy to do,” said Sodhi.
The former India all-rounder reckoned that captain Unmukt Chand could be the next Virat Kohli or Yuvraj Singh for India.
Sodhi couldn’t be classed as extremely talented, but he was a workhorse and never left even a speck of enthusiasm in the dressing room while out on the field. Here’s an example: Punjab were playing Mumbai in the 2004-05 Ranji Trophy semi-finals at the Wankhede Stadium.
The hosts were all but buried and set to concede 100 plus first innings lead to Punjab with the last pair at the crease. Yet, Sodhi gave his all to stop a boundary and fell on his right shoulder in the process. His injury was severe enough to prevent him from opening the innings later in the day. When asked about his seemingly needless enthusiasm with his side already on top, he told this writer: “Yes, I thought about my role of opening the innings while going for that save, lekin ball to rokna hain na?”