'Ravi Shastri sir tells us inspiring stories, would love to open for India in Tests like him': Washington Sundar
As astonishing as it may sound, there has always been a difference between Washington Sundar the cricketer and Washington Sundar the international cricketer. Three years after making his debut for India, the two versions of Sundar finally met in Brisbane when an injury to R Ashwin ruled him out of the fourth Test, opening the doors for perhaps the most unexpected debut of the summer.
Sundar grasped the opportunity with both hands. But out of his two versions, Sundar the cricketer would perhaps end up being the happier one as the plaudits he earned after the Brisbane Test were more for his batting.
A top-order batsman then an off-spinner since grade cricket, Sundar was always seen as a white-ball off-spinner who can bat a bit when he was first picked for Indian side for home series against Sri Lanka in 2017 December.
While Sundar continued to bat at the top of the order quite often for Tamil Nadu in domestic cricket, he never quite got an opportunity to showcase his talents with the willow in hand for India until the Brisbane Test where his 62-run knock brought India close to Australia’s first innings total.
"I think it will be a blessing for me if I ever get an opportunity to open the batting for India in Tests. I think I will accept the challenge just like our coach Ravi sir did during his playing days," Washington told PTI during an interaction from his Chennai residence.
Sundar scored a quick 22, including a hooked six off Pat Cummins, to play a part in the finishing act, apart from a match-haul of four wickets.
The young man said he aspires to open the batting for India like head coach Ravi Shastri.
"Ravi sir tells us very inspiring stories from his playing days. Like how he made his debut as a specialist spinner, got four wickets and batted at number 10 against New Zealand on debut.
"And how from there, he became a Test opener and played all those great fast bowlers. I would love to open the batting in Tests like him," said Washington, who enjoys a decent first-class batting average of 32 plus, which can only improve from hereon as he gets to play more games for India.
For a youngster coming into the Test side, he feels that there is no need to draw any inspiration from outside as there are so many role models in that India dressing room.
"As a youngster, when I look up for inspiration and motivation, I find so many role models in that dressing room. There is Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin who have been such great performers. "You look up to these players and they are always ready to guide you," said the tall off-spinner.
Washington was asked to stay back in Australia after the white ball series as a net bowler in order to help the Test team prepare and it meant that he was bowing a lot at the nets with the red kookaburra.
"It certainly helped my overall game as I was asked to stay back for Test matches. But it was the planning by our coaches including bowling coach Bharath Arun sir that really helped," he said.
(With PTI inputs)
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