By Khurram Habib
New Delhi, Jan 17 (IANS) While fans and former cricketers are pleasantly surprised at India’s tail wagging with No. 7 and 8 scoring half-centuries, Washington Sundar’s father is upset at his son for not getting a Test century.
Sundar scored 62 off 144 balls and shared a 123-run seventh wicket partnership with Shardul Thakur, who made 67 on the third day of the fourth Test between India and Australia at The Gabba. Sundar was the ninth man to be dismissed.
“I am disappointed he did not get a 100. When Siraj came, he should have hit fours and sixes. He is capable of that. He should have gone for sixes. He could have gone for pulls and big hits. Perhaps, he thought of trying to come close to Australia’s total as the lead was very less,” father M Sundar told IANS from Chennai.
“I speak to him in Australia every day. I told him last evening whenever you get a chance, get a big score. He said, ‘sure I will’.”
There is a reason why M Sundar is upset. He knows his son is a very capable top-order batsman although he has been picked in the team only for the lower middle-order. Washington has played only 12 first-class matches but whenever he has got a chance, he has performed.
He opened the innings against Mumbai at Lahli in his debut match for Tamil Nadu in the 2016-17 Ranji Trophy season. The ground at Lahli is more of an open field and aids seam bowling. But he shared a 107-run partnership for the first wicket with Abhinav Mukund on that surface.
He also made 156 opening for TN against Tripura at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. It is a surprise that he hasn’t featured in TN Ranji side for over three years now.
In the Gabba Test, 21-year-old Sundar became only the third Indian player to score a fifty and take three wickets in an innings on debut. Those who have seen him play from up close, knew this all-round show was coming.
Back in 2017, he was called up for the (pink-ball) Duleep Trophy final just a month short of his 18th birthday. The off-spinner and left-handed batsman picked 11 wickets (5/94 and 6/87) and scored 130 runs (88 in first innings & 42 in the second) to help India Red beat an India Blue side that comprised the likes Ishant Sharma, Pankaj Singh and Jaydev Unadkat as well as Suresh Raina.
“After that Duleep Trophy performance we all thought he would be in the Test team. But he wasn’t picked. We were disappointed,” said M Sundar.
Washington had first made an impression as a 15-year-old. He was in the NCA U-19 team but was picked in the NCA seniors team for a KSCA tournament.
He didn’t play the first two games but then scored a 100 in the game against Mumbai, 86 in the next one and he topped it up with a 159 against Haryana in the final. The Haryana side included the likes of Joginder Sharma, Jayant Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.
All those knocks came while opening the innings.
“He is a natural opening batsman, and has scored a lot of runs against the new ball. In Chennai League, he is the youngest player to score a hundred in first division league. At the age of 14, he got a century while opening,” added Sundar, who himself made it to the Tamil Nadu Ranji probable squad and named his son after his own mentor PD Washington.
“My mentor was called Washington. He helped me a lot in my career. Through gratefulness, I kept my son’s name after him,” explains the senior Sundar.
M Sundar may not have been able to fulfill his cricket dreams but he is living them through his son, a Test cricketer now, and his daughter, who has played 42 first-class games for Tamil Nadu.