Washington Sundar: ‘Gabba Test was a blessing for me’

Washington rates the Gabba Test of 2020-21 as the most memorable cricket match he has ever been involved in.

Washington Sundar during the launch of a Puma store in Gurugram on Thursday.   -  Sandeep Saxena

It was a Test debut to savour. Scoring a pugnacious half-century to lift the team from choppy waters, Washington Sundar became a household name among Indian fans after India defeated Australia at the Gabba for a 2-1 series win. The aura of the win may perhaps not fade for a long time to come - neither for those involved in it nor for observers.

For Washington, it was a “blessing.” He rates it as the most memorable cricket match he’s ever been involved in. “It was a life-changing moment for me. Test cricket was always a dream for me, and for me to make my debut in that particular Test was all the more exciting,” he told Sportstar at a promotional event here.

“I was very glad, it was a blessing for me, and I wanted to do justice to my attitude and approach towards the entire game. It was an extremely memorable game for me, as well as for all the players who were a part of the squad and even the management,” he said.

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Washington’s innings of 62 is part of folklore now because of his role in India’s fightback. Going out to bat when India was five down for 161 and staring at a large first-innings deficit, Washington turned things around with a stroke-filled partnership of 123 with Shardul Thakur. It helped India get to within 31 runs of Australia’s total, eventually proving invaluable in a three-wicket triumph.

‘Fearless cricket’ 

Part of the reason for the confidence with which Washington and Shardul played their strokes against a potent bowling attack was their positive mindset. The leadership and the team culture indeed had a role to play, Washington says, in the free-spiritedness of the two players when they were in the middle facing an uphill task ahead.

“That’s where people like Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli play a huge role,” Washington said.

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“They want us to play fearless cricket, and be really confident in expressing our skill sets. We didn’t think too far ahead when we were in the middle, we just wanted to play to the merit of the ball. If the ball was going to be there to hit, we wanted to do that. We were not in a great position so we didn’t want to see the scoreboard too much or plan too far ahead. We just took one ball at a time and we were playing our own game. At the end of the day, it was history. God has always been very kind,” he said.

The positive approach did make a difference after India was humiliated at Adelaide in the first Test, dismissed for 36. “None of the players or the support staff panicked at any stage. They were very optimistic of the fact that we still had three more Tests to play, and we could make a lot out of those games which were left. And that’s what exactly happened as well.”

Washington this year was part of another setup that seemed to be inspired – Royal Challengers Bangalore. Although he couldn’t play the second leg of the Indian Premier League due to a finger injury, he was buoyed by its spirited performance that took it to the playoffs.

“Probably a lot of things were in good balance; our squad was in good balance, and we played with an amazing attitude as well. Players like [Mohammed] Siraj, [Yuzvendra] Chahal…these youngsters really stood up and did really well for RCB. Last two years we did really well to qualify as well. In the knockouts it’s a matter of one or two games, we never know what happens,” he said.

Washington will be making his return to top-level cricket with the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in November as part of the Tamil Nadu squad trying to defend its crown.

As a brand ambassador of PUMA, Washington commented on the launch of its new store in Gurugram.

“We will see a lot of people coming over here and having a lot of fun over here. More than the fact that they can see a lot of good collections, they can have a good experience in terms of trying their hand on the F1 simulator and clicking pictures of wall arts over here.”

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