The rise and rise of Washington Sundar

The last few days have been eventful for Washington. He took out Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell during the one-day tour game in Chennai, was called up to bowl at the Indian batsmen in the nets, impressed the team management and now come his heroics in the Duleep summit clash.

Washington Sundar was in fine nick during the Duleep Trophy final, in which he picked up 11 wickets and scored 130 runs.

Washington Sundar saw his first movie when 13 years old. Even on Sundays, he would be off for practice with his father on scooter wading through the Chennai traffic.

“He always had the talent, I wanted him to stay disciplined,” said Washington’s dad M. S. Sundar, a respected former TNCA first division cricketer.

Washington's is an astonishing story of someone with an intriguing name – kept in memory of ex-army man P. D. Washington who helped his father financially and emotionally during difficult times – and a game driven by passion.

Crucially, this off-spinning all-rounder has shown the mental toughness to complement his skills, grabbed opportunities.

His 11-wicket match haul in the Duleep Trophy final – Washington also notched up scores of 88 and 42 – was as match-winning as they come in a big game.

Washington told Sportstar on Sunday, “I don’t put pressure on myself even during crunch matches. I just want to enjoy the game and the challenge. If I do that I can think rationally. Once that happens, you can find the right answers.”

He added, “In the Duleep final, there wasn’t much margin for error. There was help from the pitch but it was a slow turner.”

The lanky Washington’s off-spin has the right ingredients, he has control and does spin the ball. “It’s a combination of pivoting, using your body, hip rotation, employing your shoulders slightly and using your wrists and fingers. Only if everything falls in place that you manage to impart proper revs on the ball,” he said.

Importantly, he can get the ball to straighten or drift away from the right hander. “It is not a doosra or a carrom ball. This variation is a lot about the release point,” the all-rounder said.

The last few days have been eventful for Washington. He took out Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell during the one-day tour game in Chennai, was called up to bowl at the Indian batsmen in the nets, impressed the team management and now come his heroics in the Duleep summit clash.

With the willow, the fluent southpaw with a straight back swing has made a mental switch. “In the Duleep Trophy I was up against Ishant Sharma and Pankaj Singh, two fine pacemen. But I decided before the season that if a delivery was in my zone, I would go for the shot. You need to show respect to good balls but make the most of the other ones.”

He is able to play across formats. Washington has been making the mental and technical adjustments capably. His basics are sound.

Of course, wearing the India cap is his biggest dream. “My parents have made so many sacrifices for me. Representing the country is what you play for.”

That dream is close to being fulfilled.

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