He made his international debut as an 18-year-old in December 2017 and after getting his fair share of bumps along the way, Washington Sundar has established himself as a regular pick in India’s T20I squad.
The youngster from Tamil Nadu, with his steady off-spin, does a vital job for India in T20Is by bowling in the powerplay. Despite being a youngster still finding his feet at the highest level, Washington is known to have a steady head and can bowl with great control and accuracy.
The 20-year-old featured in three consecutive T20I series for India late last year and also did well for his state side in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy last season.
And now Washington, who played just three games for Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 2019, is hoping to make a bigger impact in the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League by banking on the skills he has honed over the past 12 months.
Here are excerpts of his interview with Scroll.in:
How did it feel being away from the sport for so long? How did you stay focussed?
I’ve never been away from the sport for this long, so it was definitely hard. But I was extra motivated to improve on every aspect of my game. I wanted to use the time carefully to prepare for the IPL and all the cricket thereafter. And I’m happy I could do that to my full potential. The break gave me valuable time to work on various skills.
What do you make of RCB’s bowling strength this year?
We have a lot of variety in the attack. Since we’re playing in the UAE, it helps to have a number of spinners and all-rounders in the squad. We can be really good as a combination. But of course, we will have to go out there and execute the plans. I’m sure we will be able to do well as a unit and win games for RCB.
How different do you expect the conditions in the UAE to be as compared to India?
I’m not sure about the conditions since I haven’t played here, but in the one month here so far it has been very hot and humid. So we can expect some dry pitches as the tournament progresses. All the international games played out here seemed to have slow, turning pitches so I guess we can expect the same in the IPL.
How much of an advantage is it to be playing under Virat Kohli in the IPL? How does he motivate you?
He’s a superstar of the game and everyone looks up to him. I’m very fortunate that he’s the captain of the side I’m playing for in the IPL. There are so many things anyone can learn from him. One can pick little things by observing his approach in practice sessions and while training. I’ve already spent two-three years playing with him and there’s a lot that I’ve learnt by interacting with him.
RCB have a number of quality spinners in their ranks. Is there added pressure due to the competition?
Not really, I don’t look at it as competition. We are a unit and we just want to win games for RCB. It’s exciting to play with these guys since they’ve been tremendous for their countries. I’m looking forward to bowling in tandem with them and exchanging ideas.
What’s your mindset bowling as a spinner in the powerplay?
There are a lot of things that need to be considered while bowling in the powerplay. It’s a challenge for sure. The thumb rule is to keep things tight and if you can get a wicket or two in the bargain, it will be really helpful for the team. It’s exciting when the batsman is going after you right from the first ball and there are just two fielders outside the circle. The challenge is always on since most of the times you’re bowling to the best players in the world during that phase in the game.
What areas in your game are you trying to improve to take yourself to the next level?
Every cricketer wants to keep improving in various aspects of the game. It’s a constant process. You have to keep honing your skills to sustain at this level. Having said that, it’s most important to win games for your team and I’m going to place emphasis on that this season.
You had a good run with the bat in the Syed Mushtaq Trophy for Tamil Nadu. Have you discussed with the new management a chance to do more with the bat? Do you see yourself as a proper all-rounder in this format?
I do consider myself a proper all-rounder. I know I’ll have to grab the opportunity with both hands when it comes my way. Really looking forward to it in this IPL season.