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April 23, 2018
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This Washington is going places‘The idea is to bowl where the batsman is least expecting the delivery’

When the heat is on, Washington Sundar keeps his cool. In hectic modern-day shortest-format face-offs, old-fashioned control keeps him going.

This spinner is powerful in PowerPlays.

Indeed, one among the breed of bowlers (off-spinners) most vulnerable in the T20 cricket also finished with the best economy rate, and with most wickets too. Despite his minimal celebrations at successes — a throwback to another era — Washington rocked in the Nidahas Trophy. He was rightly the Man-of-the-Series.

Washington bowled a majority of his overs during PowerPlay and yet finished with a stunning economy rate of 5.70. And he topped the wicket-takers’ tally — along with Yuzvendra Chahal — with eight scalps at a telling average of 14.25.

Great feeling

“It’s a great feeling actually. I am only 18 and this is my first full tournament. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are dangerous opponents. The pressure was on us,” said Washington to The Hindu here on Monday.

He had landed in Chennai on Monday morning after celebrations that stretched late into Sunday night in Colombo. “It was a memorable triumph,” he said.

Although his elegant and free-stroking left-handed batting has not been in view so far, Washington’s development as a bowler has been fascinating.

Clarity of thought

India bowling coach Bharat Arun said, “Even under immense pressure, he stays calm. That’s why his thought process is so good in the PowerPlay overs. He has clarity of thought even in stressful situations.”

Arun, who believed Washington was “very receptive to ideas”, observed, “He is an exciting bowler. What stands out is the manner he gets the ball to drift. The batsman thinks he is in line and then the ball drifts. He is also someone who uses the yorker extremely well.”

Washington said bowling in the PowerPlays and later towards the ‘death’ was a lot about thinking ahead of the batsman. “You got to stay one step ahead. Even if he hits me, I tell myself, ‘My next delivery will be my best’. The idea is to bowl where the batsman is least expecting the delivery.”

Using the crease and varying the pace are among his principal ploys. For a tall man, who extracts bounce, Washington can also get the new ball to skid, employing cross seam.

And Washington was at the non-striker’s end when the blazing Dinesh Karthik settled the issue with a last-ball six. “It was an unforgettable feeling. I was hopeful Karthik would do something special. It happened.”

It was celebration time for India. And this Washington is going places.