The Rise and Rise of Washington Sundar

Washington Sundar has been one of the most talked about players in recent times. The reason is simple, the way he showcased his talent and temperament against one of the most belligerent sides has amazed everyone. Even Sundar himself wouldn’t have imagined his test debut of this order. He came to the tour as a T20I all-rounder, later was called as a test net bowler, and then, with excessive injuries around the team, he had to debut in absence of the spin bowling all-rounder Jadeja. As he has introduced himself to the outer world, let’s have a look at his career which took a turn from white-ball cricket to red-ball cricket.

Early years:

Washington started playing Cricket professionally at a very young age. He was a young prodigy in Tamil Nadu Cricket. He definitely had the talent and this talent was spotted quickly. M. Senthilnathan(who captained India in the first under-19 World Cup, in Australia, 1988.) played a massive role in noticing Sundar’s flair early in his age. Many people criticized Senthilnathan for opting for Sundar in the eleven for the club in the TNCA first division league. But Sundar never disappointed him.

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Young Washington Sundar | Image Credit: IndianExpress

He expressed his interest in Sundar’s all-round ability. Sundar was not only a fantastic off-spinner back then, but also an aggressive opening batsman.

He can cut and pull, essay the straight or cover drives and play the flick. Ask him about his favourite shot and Washington replies, “Hitting straight down the ground.”

Senthilnathan

U-19 World Cup call-up:

Senthilnathan wasn’t surprised after he was informed about Sundar’s selection in the U-19 World Cup. He knew this boy will make it big. Sundar made it to the Ishan Kishan-led Indian U19 team for the World Cup 2016 in Bangladesh. He had a decent run both with the bat and the ball in the tournament with some good performances with the bat at number 6 and bunch of economical spells with the ball.

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Washington Sundar with an U-19 Trophy | Image: BCCI – Twitter

The Unexpected IPL Debut:

Sundar’s performances in the U19 World Cup and the package which he offered were enough for him to get noticed by franchises in the IPL. Moreover, he was an essential part of the Tamil Nadu Ranji team in absence of Ashwin. Hence, Rising Pune Supergiants called him to replace injured Ashwin. Sundar was chosen ahead of Parvez Rasool who came for the trials along with him. The fact that Sundar managed to impress the likes of Stokes and Smith makes it an even bigger achievement.

“There wasn’t much pressure. I have been bowling really well and I knew I would be able to do well in the trial. I was up against Stokes and Smith.”

Washington Sundar

He was a good addition for RPS. Surprisingly, he played 11 matches for the franchise. He took 8 wickets in the journey.

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Washington Sundar with Steve Smith | Image: IPLT20 – Twitter

Later, he was bought by Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL 2017 for a whopping 3.2 crores. He has been doing a good job in the IPL ever since. Kohli has used him as a powerplay bowler which was quite new for him initially. But later, he got used to it and adjusted his line and lengths accordingly. He started to bowl tighter line and never gave unnecessary width to the batsman.

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Washington Sundar with Virat Kohli | Image: Royal Challengers Bangalore – Instagram

In fact, he was the most economical bowler in the powerplays in the IPL 2020. There have been other spinners who were economical too. But the fact that Sundar bowled most of his overs in the powerplay with the restricted field makes it even more challenging for the bowler to have control over the run rate. In the match against Mumbai Indians which saw 402 runs, 23 fours, and 26 sixes, Washington Sundar ended up with the figures: 4-0-12-1. His spell was one of the highlights of the season.

The Begin of the Dream:

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Washington Sundar receives his cap from Ravi Shastri | Image: BCCI – Twitter

18-year-old Sundar got the national call-up for the home series against Sri Lanka. Sundar debuted in ODI in the match which saw the third double century from Rohit Sharma’s bat. Obviously, he didn’t get to bat but he did get an important wicket of Thirimanne. He debuted in T20Is in the same series in which he didn’t get to bat either but got one wicket. He has been the part of India T20I setup ever since.

The Dream Continues…

Although Sundar had played first-class cricket earlier, he didn’t play a first-class match from 2017. His figures in first-class cricket were decent with around 30 wickets in 12 matches. However, these figures wouldn’t have helped him to get a spot in the test team. But fate turned things for him. He was in the T20I squad for the series against Australia. Later, due to a number of injuries in the team, he was held back as a net bowler to replicate Nathan Lyon and later debuted to fill the spot of injured Jadeja and he then replaced Ashwin. He revealed that he was always ready for the opportunity.

My skills with red ball are good and I am ready to bowl even 40-50 overs

Washington Sundar

No one, absolutely no one would’ve thought he’ll perform that well in the Gabba Test. First of all, Sundar couldn’t have asked for more after getting his first wicket in test cricket in Steve Smith.

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Smith was shuffling across and Sundar could’ve easily flawed his line and length. But, he stuck to his plan and bowled tighter lengths consistently and eventually got better of Smudge.

How good was he with the bat?

It’s very easy to say that he used to open in the domestic cricket and hence it was easy for him to bat. But the fact that he was probably facing the best fast bowling attack in the world including the likes of Cummins, Starc and Hazlewood shouldn’t be neglected. Cummins was consistently bowling hard lengths. Moreover, he was targeting Washington’s shoulder at one stage. With a brilliant performance of a three-wicket haul and 62 off 144 balls, Sundar made a mark on his dream test debut.

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Washington Sundar’s rise from white ball to red-ball cricket isn’t surprising to his family and coach but definitely is for others who are watching him around the world. He’s certainly a handsome package in test cricket as well.

Featured Image: Washington Sundar | BCCI

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