How MRF Pace Foundation made Washington Sundar a better batsman

The 21-year-old Washington Sundar has been known for his tight bowling in the T20 format but his efforts with the bat should not come as a surprise. He grew up as a top-order batsman and even opened for Tamil Nadu in his maiden first-class season in 2016-17.

The 21-year-old all-rounder has been known for his tight bowling especially in the T20 format but his efforts with the bat should not come as a surprise.   -  GETTY IMAGES

After an impressive performance with the ball in the first innings, where he picked up three for 89, Washington Sundar starred with the bat, scoring a stylish 62. Shardul Thakur and Sundar combined for a rearguard century stand that frustrated Australia’s vaunted bowling attack and lifted India from a precarious position on day three of the fourth Test in Brisbane.

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The 21-year-old all-rounder has been known for his tight bowling in the T20 format but his efforts with the bat should not come as a surprise. The youngster grew up as a top-order batsman and even opened for Tamil Nadu in his maiden first-class season in 2016-17.

Washington’s father M. Sundar was an elated man on Sunday and called it the best day of his life. “It was such a great feeling seeing him do well but we are not surprised. Ever since he started in the TNCA lower division league at the age of 12, he has scored runs against players much older than him and was one of the youngest players to score a ton in the first division league,” said Sundar.

M. Senthilnathan, head coach at MRF Pace Foundation, has played a crucial role in Washington’s career. He gave an insight into his batting talent. Washington has been playing for Globe Trotters, MRF’s club in the TNCA first division league, since he was 13.

“He showed today [on Sunday] what he can do as a batsman. In T20 cricket, he used to come lower down the order and had to hit from the first ball,” said Senthilanthan.

The Chennai lad may have played only 12 First-Class games, the last of which came in November 2017, but that is not a reflection of his ability in the longer format.   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

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“He is used to playing against pacers training at the MRF Pace Foundation. So right from when he was 13-14 years old, he has faced bowlers who were playing first-class cricket by then. He has also faced bowlers from Australia who used to come there to train. That is why he did not have any nerves and looked so comfortable because he is used to that kind of pace from an early age,” the former TN player added.

Ever the taskmaster, Senthil said, “He bowled really well and that should have given him confidence too. If I have to be very critical, I wished he had finished not out but today he showed he is ready to be a Test-level batsman.”

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The Chennai lad may have played only 12 First-Class games, the last of which came in November 2017, but that is not a reflection of his ability in the longer format. Ever since his India debut in the limited-overs format in December 2017, his national team duties have meant he has not been available for Tamil Nadu regularly. An ankle injury when in England in 2018 did not help his cause either.

Like rest of the fans around the world, Sundar picked Washington's nonchalant sweep six off Nathan Lyon as his shot of the day. “I am happier that this knock showed his batting talent to the world and I am confident he will soon score a Test ton for India,” he said.

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