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Washington Sundar reaps the benefits of prudence

Washington Sundar has been the engine of Indias march to Nidahas Trophy 2018 final

Bengaluru, March 15: Over 1.5: Liton Das st Karthik b Washington Sundar. The off-spinner sees the Bangladesh opener shimmying down the track and bowls shorter and wider, away from the reach of Das. Karthik completes simplest of stumping.

Over 3.4: Soumya Sarkar b Washington Sundar. It is partly the batsman's mistake as he swings wildly against a dart on the leg stump. Accuracy wins the battle this time for Sundar as leg stump is rattled.

Washington Sundar castles Tamim Iqbal

Over 5.4: Tamil Iqbal b Washington Sundar. The Bangladesh southpaw walks down the pitch and tries to deposit Sundar over short fine leg. Tamim misses the shot and leg stump is disturbed once again. Accurate rather than being fancy.

First spell: Washington Sundar 3-0-18-3.

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Sundar's effort smothered Bangladesh chase and Mushfiqur Rahim's fifty only helped them come a bit close to the Indian total. Sundar is now the standout player in the Nidahas Trophy 2018 despite some fine batting efforts by Shikhar Dhawan and Mushfiqur.

The 18-year-old from Tamil Nadu has numbers to show - 7 wickets from four matches at a tournament best economy of 5.87. But more stunningly 11 of his 16 overs were delivered in the high-pressure Power Plays.

Sundar said he relished the challenge of bowling in the Power Plays, usually a death trap for bowlers. "Powerplay bowling is definitely challenging. That is why you play cricket. When you win those challenges, you get a lot of satisfaction. That is how I look at bowling at Powerplays. It is a very good feeling when you bowl under six every game," he said.

Sundar has also comfortably outshone the senior spinner in the side Yuzvendra Chahal - 5 wickets from four matches at 6.93.

Of course, Sundar has the experience of bowling in the Indian Premier League. For Rising Pune Supergiants, he took eight wickets from 11 games at 6.16 and was the go-to man of skipper Steve Smith.

But the pressures of international cricket is different and your performance will be analysed much deeper. Here Sundar remained clear in his head about the strategies to be employed.

Bowling map of Washington Sundar against Bangladesh (Courtesy: ESPNCricinfo)

On pitches that is smooth for batting, he took the pace off the ball, mixed it and ensured that batsmen cannot guess easily or premeditate against him. Against right-handers, he mixed the pace from a good length with on occasions going full and against the southpaws he bowled a tad quicker and shorter trying to cramp them from creating room. Both the tactics worked well for him.

Sundar, perhaps, has that gift of reading the batsmen's mind complementing his thinking ability suitably.

"I myself am a batsman to an extent. I can suspect what he (other batsmen) is thinking and where he is going to hit me. Every six balls, the batsman will be looking to hit you at least for a four and six. I am fortunate to have the skill of taking wickets in the Power Play," said Sundar.

But for Rohit Sharma it was all magic. "Washington's spell up front was magical. It's not easy for a spinner to bowl with the new ball, so hats off to him.

"Washington has been courageous to take the ball from me, not afraid to flight the ball, and he's very clear on what he wants to execute. That allows me to breathe easy. When a bowler knows what field to set, that talks a lot about that individual," gushed Rohit.

So there's a bit of magic, streetsmartness and deep thinking about Sundar's bowling.

Of late, Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have hogged all the headlines with their exploits in the limited over games and Sundar has dragged the focus back to finger spinners. Finger lickin' good then!

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Story first published: Thursday, March 15, 2018, 12:17 [IST]
Other articles published on Mar 15, 2018
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