Strange are the ways of cricket. Washington Sundar’s primary job is to bat at the top of the order but it is his bowling that has opened an IPL path for him.
The 18-year-old Sundar’s steady and nerveless off-spin—he stepped into the huge shoes of the injured R. Ashwin in the Rising Pune Supergiant team—has been among the stories of the ongoing IPL.
A smooth-stroking left-hander, who turned out for the India under-19 side, Washington has grabbed the IPL opportunity with both hands.
After playing seven games for his franchise, Washington’s economy rate of just 7.00 has grabbed attention.
More so, since he has often bowled with the new ball, in the Power Play overs when the spinners are so vulnerable.
Washington survived the test and has grown in confidence. So much so that he is now learning new tricks. He told Sportstar on Tuesday, “I am trying out the carrom ball at the nets. There are times when I am able to bowl that delivery properly. Will bowl it in a match when I have perfected it.”
When Supergiant skipper Steve Smith walked up to Washington and told him he was going to make his IPL debut against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Pune, the Chennai boy did feel the heat at first.
Washington said, “There was pressure in the beginning but all that disappeared once I entered the ground. I wanted to enjoy the game, the crowd, the atmosphere, wanted to give my best. I play hard but basically I am a pretty chilled out person.”
Bowling in the Power Play overs to David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan, Washington caught the eye with his accuracy and that precious ability to withstand stress.
There was support for him too from the big boys in the Supergiant team. “Dhoni Sir would come to me and suggest changes in the field. He would encourage me. Smith would have a word with me from time to time.”
The IPL has been a journey of discovery for Washington. “Travelling with a team that has so many fantastic players has been a great experience. Then I have bowled to men such as McCullum and Warner.”
He added, “I have a gameplan against each batsman, watch their videos. If I bowl to my plan, I know I can pull it off.”
A tall bowler who gets natural bounce because of his height and high-arm action, Washington varies his pace nicely and can send down a useful top-spinner.
Washington confided, “I did not take my bowling seriously earlier. But it was Senthil Sir and my father who asked me to focus more on my bowling.”
Former Tamil Nadu batsman M. Senthilnathan, his mentor and coach at the Globe Trotters team, and his father M. Sundar have both donned a significant role in shaping Washington’s career.
During Tamil Nadu’s triumphant campaigns in the Vijay Hazare and Deodhar Trophy competitions, Washington’s parsimonious bowling was a big factor.
He is now waiting for a chance to display his wares with the bat; Washington has loads of natural ability.
The lad who listens to melodious songs from A.R. Rahman to relax off the field has a lot more plans up his sleeve on the cricketing arena.
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