He can bowl, he can bat and he can win you matches. At a tender age of 18, Washington Sundar has already made a name for himself and as the years roll on, he will only get better. His 8 wickets at an economy of under 6 in the Nidahas Trophy against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka shows he is capable of taking on bigger teams. India does not play international cricket until July 2018 and therefore the upcoming IPL will be crucial for the youngster. He will play for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), where his captain will be none other than the Indian captain Virat Kohli. Interestingly, he is yet to play a single match under Kohli. Stand-in captain Rohit Sharma has been the leader in the teenager’s 7 international matches so far.
Sundar has never backed down from taking up any responsibility. He opens the batting and bowling at the T20 level at the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament. He batted at either No. 4 or 5 in the ICC Under-19 World cup 2016, in which India finished runners-up and even at the international level, he has opened the bowling for India. His off-spinners have been extremely effective in the powerplay overs. He does not give the batsmen an inch, ensuring that they not just play every delivery of his, but also gives himself a wicket-taking opportunity with every ball he balls. His height too helps him get the extra purchase from the wickets.
His batting at the international level has not been tested yet. However, in the U-19 World Cup in 2016, he scored 116 at 23.20 to go with 5 wickets at an economy rate of 3.36. Even in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2018, he opened the batting for Tamil Nadu, scoring 190 from 9 innings at 21.11. He also was the joint highest wicket-taker for his side with 12 wickets at an economy rate of under 7.
But the breakthrough came in the TNPL 2017 where he represented the Tuti Patriots. He ended the tournament with 459 runs – Most in the tournament and also the second highest wicket-taker with 15 scalps at 12.73 and an economy rate of 6.16. Truly phenomenal!
No place in full strength side?
With India persisting with wrist spinners in the limited-overs sides, Sundar might find it tough to make it to a full-fledged side. If India do want finger spinners, they have the experience of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. However, that’s where the IPL 2018 will play a huge part. India travel to England right after the IPL, starting with the 3-match T20I series.
India have persisted with Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav as their frontline spinners in the shortest format. Given their performances in the recent past, it is going to be tough to topple them, but performers like Sundar will surely keep them on their toes.
Sundar, part of RCB, will hope to make an immediate impact for his new IPL team after impressing with Rising Pune Supergiant last year. For RPS, Sundar finished with 8 wickets at a miserly economy rate of 6.16. He was entrusted by Steven Smith to bowl mostly in the powerplay overs, which paid off. Rohit perhaps took a cue from that.
Before the Nidahas tri-series, Sundar was ranked 182 in ICC’s bowler’s ranking. Following his good show in the tri-series, he is now ranked 31st, That’s some progress. India have perhaps unearthed a new all-rounder, provided he is groomed well and given ample chances.