From an opener to T20 bowler, Sundar has come a long way | Cricket News – Times of India

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NAGPUR: He bowls in the Powerplay. He bowls when the opposition is trying to take away the game in middle overs. If his team needs, he bowls in death overs too. Basically, he always bowls difficult overs.
Is there anything Washington Sundar can’t do?
On Thursday, Sundar brought India back in the match when Deepak Chahar leaked 14 runs in the opening over while India were defending a modest 161 against Australia in the first T20 International. Sundar managed to keep the Australian openers quiet with his two over spell in the Powerplay giving away only 9 runs. He eventually completed his quota with impressive figures of 4-016-0, helping India to an 11-run victory.
It’s not the first time Sundar had choked the runs upfront. He has been doing that since 2017 after bursting on to the scene during IPL 10, playing for Rising Supergiant Pune.
When the 2017 IPL season began, Rising Supergiant Pune were under great pressure after a dismal previous season in which they had finished among the bottom two. They had even chosen Steve Smith over the seasoned Mahendra Singh Dhoni to lead the team. They had even changed the spelling of their team from Supergiants to Supergiant. Every move was calculated as the management wanted to plug every loophole.
Just before the tournament started, they received a big jolt when their premier off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin picked up a sports hernia and was ruled out. They had zeroed in on a few off spinners but eventually went for “an opening batsman who could bowl.”
He had represented India in the ICC Under-19 World as an opening batsman and had also opened for Tamil Nadu in Ranji Trophy. Also, he was chosen over Pervez Rasool, who had already played for the country and had IPL experience. The then Supergiant Performance analyst Prasanna Agoram, however, pitched in for 19-year-old Sundar after seeing him bowling at the nets.
“When I recommended that this guy will fit in the role of Ashwin, the questions were raised that “we are looking for a full time off spinner and not a batsman who can bowl”. I saw him bowling in selection trials and the length he was hitting consistently was special. In T20 format, you can get away with the lines you are bowling but lengths need to be spot on. For a 19-year-old to bowl those lengths consistently, and the speed at which he was bowling was special,” Agoram told TOI.
He is now an established Twenty20 off spinner. He has already won the Man of the series award in Nidahas Trophy in 2018. He is the only Indian to have an economy rate under six in IPL 2020.
The rise of Sundar as an off spinner is exceptional. He generally bowls in the Powerplay and more often than not does the job for his team. If Royal Challengers Bangalore did well after three seasons, Sundar has played a part in it. It all started during Supergiants’s match against defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2017. David Warner was in blazing form and most teams were finding it difficult to contain him.
“When I suggested to Fleming about opening the bowling with Sundar, he asked me to give a strong reason for this move. I highlighted the Champions League match between RCB and New South Wales Blues in 2012. I was part of RCB set up then. I had suggested to coach Daniel Vettori to open the bowling with Dilshan. The move clicked as Dilshan gave only 11 runs in four overs when NSW scored 202 against the likes of Warner and Shane Watson,” Agoram explained.
“I told Fleming that Sundar can do a similar job against Warner. Eventually, the move clicked as Sundar’s figures were 3-0-19-0 in the Powerplay. Warner just couldn’t find a way to get away with Sundar. It was the arrival of a very special cricketer. If Pune reached the final (which they lost by just one run), Sundar played a very big part. None of the opposing batsmen found any way to hit him,” he said.
Agoram took Sundar under his wing and started mentoring him. “Since we speak the same language (Tamil), I could make him comfortable. He would pick my brains, field placing and discuss strategies against different batsmen. He worked very hard and impressed one and all in the nets. All could see that he wasn’t somebody who could be hit easily. He became more confident as the tournament progressed. He was a transformed man after that tournament.” Agoram, also assistant coach, performance, Cricket South Africa, said.
“Someone is bowling in Powerplay all the time and that too in IPL, which is very close to international standard, is very special. He plans meticulously and executes even better. The best part is Sundar isn’t following anyone to develop a knuckle ball or carrom ball or doosra. He is just focusing on his strengths. The way he is improving, he will go a long way,” he added.
Agoram feels if Sundar works hard on his batting, he can be a “big asset” to the Indian team. “People now know him as an off spinner who can bat. He can sweetly hit the ball for a six but I am not sure he is taking his batting seriously. I don’t know how much effort he is putting into his batting to transform into a good allrounder. I firmly believe he can contribute in the batting department as well. In T20, he is already doing it. If he really wants to be part of ODIs, he needs to work on his batting because someone like Ravindra Jadeja has two skills plus he is an excellent fielder,” he signed off.

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