Washington: 'Happy I am joining the Indian squad when Dhoni is in the team'

Having earned a place in the Indian Twenty20 squad against Sri Lanka, Washington Sundar is stoked to don the national jersey and play alongside the iconic Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni was instrumental in Washington Sundar's successful run at the IPL.   -  AFP

In early October this year, Washington Sundar looked at a possibly dark international future when he couldn’t get through the Yo Yo test.

He was all but picked in the Indian squad for the Twenty20 series against Australia but a fitness roadblock halted his journey.

Washington was devastated but stayed mentally strong. He was at the gym the next morning, retained focus, performed creditably in the Ranji Trophy and then returned to clear the Yo Yo hurdle.

READ: Washington Sundar clears Yo Yo test

The manner he fought back and earned a place in the Indian Twenty20 squad against Sri Lanka represented a triumph of the spirit.

“It is a dream come true for me. Not many teenagers get an opportunity to play for the country and I consider myself fortunate. Every practice session I attended was with the aim of playing for India some day,” Washington said to Sportstar on Monday.

Washington added, “The fact that I missed out playing against a team such as Australia hurt me but I willed my way through that period. It was difficult but I did not lose belief.”

A free-stroking left-handed batsman who can be flexible with his batting slots, Washington can be parsimonious with his off-spin and fields with verve.

The former India under-19 cricketer’s path breakout moment came when he was picked as a replacement for the injured star all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin in the Pune Supergiant team during the IPL this year.

ALSO READ: Washington Sundar makes it to India squad for Sri Lanka T20 series

Washington grabbed his chance with both hands. He kept his nerve is tense situations and bowled his off-spinners with control and clever variations at some celebrated Indian and international batsmen in the Power Play overs or late in the innings.

The lanky youngster recalled the guidance he received from the iconic Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the Pune side. “I could walk up to him for his advice even during his off hours. He would gladly share his thoughts with me, sort out my problems, give me valuable suggestions. Behind the stumps, he would always encourage me. I am so happy I am joining the Indian squad when he is in the team.”

For Washington, playing alongside Dhoni would be a “dream within a dream.”

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