CHENNAI: After two seasons for Royal Challengers Bangalore where he did not get enough playing opportunities, off-spin all-rounder Washington Sundar is proving his worth in emphatic fashion for the Virat Kohli-led franchise. Despite being a regular member of the Indian T20 side over the past couple of years, the 21-year-old from Tamil Nadu played just seven games for RCB in the 2018 edition and three games in the 2019 season.
Washington – who initially made his mark with Rising Pune Supergiant as a 17-year-old in 2017 – is making up for it this year. He has played all seven games for RCB in the UAE so far and has turned into an integral member of the side. In the process, he also seems to have gained the complete trust and confidence of skipper Kohli and the RCB management.
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The off-spinner has taken five wickets in seven games, but it’s his economy rate of 4.9 that stands out especially since he bowls quite a few of his overs in the Powerplay. The lanky Washington, who generates extra bounce due to his height, has used his pinpoint accuracy to hit a probing length and deprive batsmen of any easy run-scoring opportunities. His containing skills were most notable in a high-scoring game against Mumbai Indians in Dubai, where he took 1/12 in 4 overs while all the other bowlers leaked runs. It prompted India coach Ravi Shastri to remark at that point that it was the best performance this season.
At Sharjah on Monday, Washington may have expected a severe test given the small boundaries on offer. But the slow nature of the pitch came to the help of all the spinners as he took 2/20 against a powerful KKR batting line-up. “I have been wanting to keep things simple and hit the hard lengths over and over again. It has been working for me this season. I did not want to try too many things just because we were playing in Sharjah,” said Washington after the match on Monday.
Washington seems to be enjoying his spin partnership with leggie Yuzvendra Chahal, who was equally brilliant with figures of 4-0-12-1 against KKR on Monday. They perform different roles and could team up on a consistent basis in T20s for India too. “Coming into the season, Chahal and I felt that the spinners would get a lot of assistance at least from the middle phase of the tournament. I am very glad to be bowling in tandem with Chahal and doing well,” he went on to add.
M Sundar, Washington’s father and coach, said he was disappointed that the youngster did not get enough playing opportunities in the previous two IPL editions.
“I was very disappointed that he did not play many games for RCB during the past two seasons. He was doing well in the opportunities he got. It is very satisfying that he is now playing regularly. He has that fighting spirit. He has proved his mettle and earned his place this season,” Sundar told TOI on Wednesday.
Although Washington thrived as an opening batsman in U-19 cricket, his batting opportunities have been limited ever since he made the step up to the senior level. According to Sundar, there is more to come from his ward on the batting front too.
“I strongly feel his batting ability is not being made full use of. He is a genuine all-rounder who will show his batting worth if given chances to bat up the order. During the lockdown, he spent many hours at indoor nets and worked equally on his batting and bowling,” he informed.