After returning home, the first thing Washington Sundar did was to show his India Test cap to his family and get a picture clicked with his father holding the prized possession. Having played a significant role with bat and ball in India’s victory in Brisbane on his Test debut, the 21-year-old Tamil Nadu allrounder has understandably been buzzing with excitement over the last few days.
While Washington was disciplined with the ball and took four wickets in Brisbane, including that of Steve Smith in the first innings, his batting under pressure at No. 7 was a revelation.
Washington, of course, made his way up the ranks in age-group cricket as an opener and has opened the batting for Tamil Nadu too, but facing the Australian bowlers at ‘fortress’ Gabba was an entirely different ball game.
In both innings, though, Washington coped adeptly with the match situation. Whether it was his 123-run partnership with Shardul Thakur in the first innings or his cameo alongside Rishabh Pant on an enthralling final day, he exuded confidence even when countering the new ball. Washington puts it down to the fact that he has grown up playing at the top of the order.
“Definitely, the fact that I have grown up opening the batting was very helpful as I was more confident when the new ball was taken. It helped me with my belief and I had the skill set in place as well. I wanted to just play to the merit of the ball. I’m glad I was able to get runs and enjoyed batting in those conditions,” Washington told TOI.
In his formative years, Washington honed his technique by primarily opening the batting. And it is a position that he would like to occupy for India too. “It will be a blessing to open the batting for India,” he said.
The extra bounce on Australian wickets can be disconcerting for young Indian batsmen, but Washington’s preparation during the first three Tests – when he was a net bowler – came in handy.
“During the first three Tests, I worked a lot on my fitness. It was a great experience to play on Australian soil. The more you play, the more you understand the pitches and get to know the options that you can use to be successful. It was an amazing opportunity for me to prepare on those pitches and get good exposure,” the Tamil Nadu allrounder said.
Even though Washington has been used more as an offspinner by India in limited-overs cricket, he has made it a point to focus on both disciplines during his net sessions. Washington conceded that it can be hard to devote equal time to batting and bowling, but he enjoys both aspects. “It’s a little difficult, and you’ve to keep your fitness levels up as well but the process is fun.”
In a few days from now, Washington will be back training with India as the players get ready for the first Test against England at Chepauk from February 5. If Washington gets the nod, the Chennai lad will get to play his maiden home Test at his home ground. “It will be very special if I make my home debut at Chepauk. My family watching the game would have been a dream, but I am looking forward to the series,” he said.