Washington Sundar was one of the finds of the previous season of Indian Premier League. Bowling right-arm off breaks, Sundar played 11 matches as he made an instant impact by delivering economical overs in the mandatory powerplay. Sending more than half of his overs in the toughest period of the game, he maintained an economy rate of just above 6 runs per over. Since then his steady rise from junior cricket to the international arena has been impressive and has resulted in a debut for India in coloured clothing. Maintaining terrific control over his craft, time and again the 18-year-old has reminded that he is someone who enjoys the challenge of bowling in powerplays. (IPL 2018 Full Coverage)
His exceptional figures during the recently concluded Nidahas Trophy 2018 tri-series are a testament to this fact. However, season 11 of the IPL with the Royal Challengers Bangalore has not been smooth sailing for the Tamil Nadu off-spinner as his innocuous deliveries have not brought the same level of success that he usually enjoys.
In a freewheeling chat with the indianexpress.com from Bangalore, Sundar acknowledged the need to go back to the nets, work harder on his skills and also focus a little more on doing his homework. Stating that he is also sharpening his skills with the willow to contribute more with the bat for his IPL franchise, the teenager also spoke on various other topics including his teams stuttering IPL campaign.
RCB’s Journey in 2018
Royal Challengers Bangalore have had a mediocre start to the IPL season with two wins out of six matches. But Sundar believes that it is a matter of time before Virat Kohli and his red army get momentum on their side. “It takes a bit of time for a team to gel together and in terms of it, we are on track. But that doesn’t really matter as long as we perform and execute plans better. We still have quite a good chance to qualify for the knockouts. With the home games coming up, they will be very helpful for us to get deep into the tournament,” he said.
But at times the pressure surrounding IPL can be a bit overwhelming for budding cricketers. Though under the leadership of Virat Kohli, the going becomes a little easier. “I have always wanted to keep things simple and think of those aspects, that are under my control. I am really lucky to be under the leadership of Kohli in RCB. He has been really supportive of me especially when I have the ball in my hand. I can’t ask for a better captain and I want to do well for the team in the matches coming up,” Sundar said.
Importance of Homework
Compared to last season, the 18-year-old allrounder’s economy rate has gone a touch higher from 6.16 (2017) to 9.31 (2018). Is it because Sundar is becoming predictable? When asked if it was a cause for concern, the teenager explained the need to remain in touch with reality and focus on going back to the blackboard and prepare well. “Everyone becomes predictable. I believe I became so even after I played the first 4 games in IPL last year. Players know what you will do after two or three games. So it doesn’t really matter. In T20s, bowlers go for runs on certain days and on other occasions they are economical. What matters is how realistically you handle these situations to be a mature cricketer. I trust a lot in my preparations, just need to back to the nets, work hard and do my homework. Executing plans is another thing that I need to be working on,” the off-spinner said.
If there is one area that Washington Sundar has carved out as his own, then it is bowling in the powerplay. Fellow teammate Yuzvendra Chahal had recently stated that the off-spinners’ presence gives Kohli more options during the first six overs. But the numbers mentioned above tell us Sundar is yet to achieve his best. Admitting that he has given away runs a bit more than his liking, Sundar said, “In powerplay, you don’t have too many options with batsmen wanting to hit all six balls with two fielders outside the circle. As I said before, I have always tried to keep things simple and I have been successful at it. I can be pro-active but I just want to accept the fact that I have gone for runs and it is important for me to stay focused and look forward to games coming up.”
Batting in Death Overs
Sundar began his cricketing career as a batsman and later shifted to bowling. Incidentally, his batting strike rate in the IPL has made a remarkable jump from 75 in 2017 to 182.85 in 2018. While most of those knocks have come towards the end of the innings, Sundar revealed that he is focused on batting aggressively. “I believe a lot in my batting abilities and am definitely looking to bat aggressively. Coming into this tournament I worked hard on certain skills that will help me do better in the death overs. I wish I could do more of it and win games for RCB,” the lanky offie from Chennai said. Sundar is also hopeful that the 22 yards at the Chinnaswamy stadium will be its old self this year and deliver run-feasts. “The pitch looks good and definitely not like last year. The par-scores have been higher with each game so it will continue to increase with each match.” he said.
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