Washington Sundar, prior to his unexpected Test debut on Friday against Australia, had bowled over 285 overs in first-class cricket and after dismissing Australian batsman Steve Smith, the Tamil Nadu off-spinner said he is ready to bowl 50 overs in an innings if that’s what the side wants of him.
India’s T20 specialist off-spinner was insisted to stay back by the team management after the white-ball series to help as a net bowler but injuries sustained by key players, including senior pro spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, landed him in a mouth-watering duel with Steve Smith which he won hands down.
Washington Sundar Was Waiting For Opportunity To Represent India In Tests
The Indian bowling unit was without their first-XI players like Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin, and Ravindran Jadeja as India handed debuts to T Natarajan and Washington Sundar. Mohammed Siraj was the leader of the inexperienced Indian bowling attack with this being just his third Test.
“I have always felt that my skills are very good with red balls. I have bowled a lot of overs in first class cricket and first division league in Chennai as well. I was just waiting for this opportunity and the last couple of months, we were here, I did get to bowl a lot of overs and improve upon my skills,” the shy bowler said after the first day’s play.
But he said he have the stamina to bowl long spells that a team expects from its spinners considering that he hasn’t played first-class cricket since 2017.
“Like any bowler, I love bowling a lot of overs. It’s just so much fun to bowl a lot of overs. Give me 20, 30, 40 or 50 overs. We had some plans going for Steve Smith and (Marnus) Labuschagne and I am very glad they worked. The first wicket definitely felt good.”
Washington Sundar kept Steve Smith quiet for two overs and in the 13th delivery got him caught at short mid-wicket.
“We did have some plans for Smith and it’s a different game altogether. Last game was different, conditions were different and I had to bowl good balls over and over again. It happened (the dismissal) and it’s great.”
The former India U-19 World Cupper feels the wicket was good for batting and it was a great effort to reduce the hosts to 274 for 5 on the first day.
“There was a little bit of spongy bounce till lunch and the wicket was good and bowlers did a good job to restrict Australia to 5 for 274.”
The serenely depleted and inexperienced Indian bowling lineup did well against all expectations with debutant T Natarajan bagging a couple of wickets while debutant Washington Sundar, Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur got a wicket each. Pacer Navdeep Saini who was also playing his 2nd Test bowled just 7.5 overs before walking off the field with a groin strain, adding to India’s ever-growing injury list in this Border-Gavaskar series.
Washington Sundar Thanked Team Management For His Success And Selection In XI
Washington Sundar believes that the ankle fracture that he suffered in 2018 before the white ball series against Ireland made him mentally stronger. He is a left-handed batsman and right-arm off-spinner. He made his ODI and T20I debut for India against Sri Lanka on December 2017. He started his IPL career in 2017 with Rising Pune Supergiant. Since 2018, he has been playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore.
“I was really happy that it was a phase that I had to go through. It made me stronger both mentally and physically.”
He believes that the young bunch, a lot of whom are playing their first Test in the series, are a self-motivated lot despite finding their backs against the wall due to a series of injuries to senior players.
“If you see everyone, they have all done well at the first-class level. More than experience, guys were all excited. Nattu (T Natarajan) bowled really well and he brought his value to the team.”
He started as a specialist batsman at the U-19 India level before turning into a specialist spinner and now this Australia tour could be the making of an all-rounder prospect for India in future.
“I thank the team management for keeping me through the Test series. I felt it would really help me get better with my skill level — both in my batting and my bowling with the kind of facilities you get here.”
His father named him Washington after his own mentor, who used to buy books and uniform for him and no wonder the 21-year-old is filled with gratitude for his family and their sacrifices.
“The last 24 hours have been amazing for me. The team management asked me to be ready to play. I think I should dedicate this to my family as they sacrificed a lot. Without their support, it would have been impossible for me to play Test cricket, especially make my debut in a place like Australia,” he said.
Washington Sundar picked 30 wickets in 12 first-class matches averaging 26.93 besides playing 26 T20Is and 1 ODI. He also has 24 wickets in 36 IPL matches and has played mostly for Royal Challengers Bangalore.