Washington eyeing greater glory

After ODI and Twenty20 International debuts in the recent series against Sri Lanka, Washington Sundar’s astonishing story continues.

The Indian team, Washington said, was welcoming. “They put me at ease. Shastri Sir kept telling me to believe in myself. Bowling coach B. Arun Sir wanted me to play my natural game and Rohit Sharma showed a lot of faith in me.”   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Coach Ravi Shastri, with typical nonchalance, said to Washington Sundar after handing over the ODI cap to the youngster at Mohali, “Play bindaas (carefree) cricket.”

Washington remembered, “Shastri Sir must have uttered the word ‘bindaas’ to me at least six times over the last two weeks. He wanted me to enjoy my cricket, be fearless.”

After ODI and Twenty20 International debuts in the recent series against Sri Lanka, the 18-year-old Chennai lad’s astonishing story continues. “For someone of my age, walking out for India and sharing the dressing room with the likes of M.S. Dhoni and so many others was a dream come true,” said the off-spinning all-rounder to Sportstar here on Monday.

The Indian team, he said, was welcoming. “They put me at ease. Shastri Sir kept telling me to believe in myself. Bowling coach B. Arun Sir wanted me to play my natural game and Rohit Sharma showed a lot of faith in me.”

In fact, Rohit displayed enough confidence to give Washington the new ball in the Twenty20 International at the Wankhede Stadiumon Sunday. The off-spinner sent down three of the six power-play overs conceding 18 runs while scalping aggressive southpaw Kusal Perera.

Washington dedicates T20 debut to the late P.D. Washington

Chennai: “I was delighted to be playing for India on Christmas eve,” said Washington Sundar even as he dedicated his Twenty20 International debut to the late P.D. Washington, an army-man who gave much-needed financial and emotional support to his father M. Sundar.

Washington added, “We are Hindus but have a Christmas tree with stars in our house during this time every year during as a mark of respect to a man who had helped my father so much.”

In fact, so grateful was Sundar, an all-rounder who made it to the Tamil Nadu Ranji probables’ list during his time, to the person who nursed him through his cricketing career that he named his son Washington.

“And every year, we remember him and celebrate his spirit during Christmas,” said Washington. --S. Dinakar

He strangulated and nailed Perera with control, denying the batsman width and the room, harrying him with bounce, and latching on to a return catch after a clever change of pace.

Washington’s one for 22 off four overs reflected his temperament too – he was nerveless and undaunted by the big stage.

Despite a couple of catches dropped off his bowling, Washington managed to make an impression on his ODI debut on a flat track at Mohali.

He set up the left-handed Lahiru Thirimanne with a couple of deliveries slower through the air and then castled him with a quicker fuller delivery. “The plan worked,” the Tamil Nadu cricketer said.

Washington’s celebration, not more than a shy smile, of his first international wicket was refreshingly understated. “I generally don’t reveal my emotions,” he said.

A bout of food poisoning kept him out of the decisive ODI at Visakhapatman. “I was gutted, couldn’t even go to the ground with the team. I had always loved bowling at Vizag, I missed out this time and have to take these things in my stride.”

Washington did not receive an opportunity to display his free flowing left-handed batting in the series but realises his time will come soon.

This Washington is eyeing greater glory.