Despite sudden demand of wrist-spinners around the world after the immense success of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, India’s young all-rounder Washington Sundar is quietly making a case for the subtle art of off-spin in the ongoing T20 tri-series in Sri Lanka.

The 18-year-old is the tournament’s top wicket-taker so far, having picked up seven wickets from three games. For India skipper Rohit Sharma, Sundar has been the go to bowler.

Sundar been the most economical bowler in the tournament with an impressive economy rate of 5.87 runs an over. This, despite having bowled 11 of his 16 overs in the powerplay.

“If you see over the years off-spinners have always been effective in all formats,” Sundar said at the post-match press conference last night after India beat Bangladesh by 17 runs to seal their place in Sunday’s final.

“It’s an important skill, as good as wrist spin. It’s all about reading the wicket, having good skills, it’s all about improving everyday. It’s important to keep working hard no matter what skill you have,” he added.

‘Matter of perception’

The fixation for finger-spinners even forced senior bowler Ravichandran Ashwin to try his hand at leg-breaks in recent domestic tournaments, albeit with a mixed bag of success.

The senior Indian pro, much like his younger Tamil Nadu teammate, had stated that off-spinners take precedence over their finger-spinning counterparts. “The future of finger-spinners lies in the perception of people,” Ashwin was quoted as saying by Reuters. “More so because it’s based on perception about what people think of what’s relevant and what’s not. Things will turn around.”

With India predominantly operating with Ashwin and Jadeja across formats not so long ago, the former was quick to remind how leg-spinners went through a phase where they were out of vogue: “At one point of time, leg-spinners didn’t have a place (in limited-overs cricket), now they do. Finger-spinners, maybe you all think don’t have a role, will come back too.”

Ashwin had said that it was the backing “People have been allowing 64 runs for two wickets in 10 overs of leg-spin too. If you give the same courage to the finger-spinners, they’ll do the same thing. It’s all about perception. I think handling bowlers is all about how you handle them and how you perceive them.”

‘Fortunate to have this skill’

By all accounts, skipper Rohit seems to be utilising Sundar’s pretty well so far. The latter has been exceptional in the powerplay during the ongoing tri-series.

Despite the ever-prevalent threat of leaking runs with the field restrictions, Sundar has stepped up to the challenge.

“It is definitely a challenging thing but that is what you play cricket for,” said Sundar. “When you get an opportunity to represent your country you need to face those challenges. When you win those challenges you get a lot of satisfaction,” he added.

“I have to admit that I am very fortunate I have got this skill. It’s more of reading the batsman’s mind, especially in the powerplays because every six balls, they will be looking to hit you out. So it’s important to read the mind.”