India's Washington Sundar, left, is congratulated by teammate Rishabh Pant following play on the first day of the fourth cricket test between India and Australia at the Gabba, Brisbane, Australia, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. (AP)
India's Washington Sundar, left, is congratulated by teammate Rishabh Pant following play on the first day of the fourth cricket test between India and Australia at the Gabba, Brisbane, Australia, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. (AP)

'Glad it worked': Washington Sundar reveals how he got Steve Smith out with a 'plan'

Handed his Test debut after an injury to India's premier off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, Washington Sundar, who was with the Indian Test side as a net-bowler, grabbed the opportunity with both hands by giving an Indian important breakthrough of Steve Smith
By hindustantimes.com
UPDATED ON JAN 15, 2021 07:23 PM IST

Steve Smith could not believe his luck when he chipped it straight to Rohit Sharma at mid-wicket on Day 1 of the fourth Test against India. Smith was well-set for another big one when a small lapse of concentration brought about his downfall and gifted debutant Washington Sundar his maiden Test wicket. Or did it? While all the focus was on how Smith had played a false shot to throw away a perfect start, Sundar in his mind, was satisfied not only because he had got his first Test wicket but also because his 'plan' was successful against Australia's best batsman.

Handed his Test debut after an injury to India's premier off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, Sundar, who was with the Indian Test side as a net-bowler, grabbed the opportunity with both hands by giving an Indian important breakthrough on Friday.

Sundar, who dismissed Smith for 36 in the second session, said he was happy that his plan worked.

"We had some plans going for Steve Smith and (Marnus) Labuschagne and I am very glad they worked. The first wicket definitely felt good," said Sundar.

Also Read | India cricketers Siraj, Sundar abused by Gabba crowd: Report

Washington kept Smith quiet for two overs and in the 13th delivery got him caught at short mid-wicket.

Asked whether Ashwin, who had got rid of Smith thrice in this series, had helped him set up a trap for the Australian right-hander, Sundar said: "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."

Sundar has played only 12 first-class matches for Tamil Nadu - the last one being in 2017 - and was never really in the scheme of things for India in the longest format. 'The T20 specialist', however, has no problems in bowling long spells.

"I have always felt that my skills are very good with red ball. 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 last couple of months, we were here, I did get to bowl a lot of overs and improve upon my skills.

Also Read | Natarajan sets unique record after making his Test debut in Brisbane

"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," the shy bowler said after first day's play.

The former India U-19 World Cupper feels the wicket was good for batting and it was great effort to reduce to the hosts to 274 for 5.

"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." Washington believes that the ankle fracture that he suffered in 2018 before the white ball series against Ireland made him mentally stronger.

"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 being thrown at the deep end of the pool 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.

"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, 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 debut in a place like Australia," he said.

(with PTI inputs)

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