All-rounder Washington Sundar on Tuesday credited his father and formative coaches for shaping his cricketing career. Sundar got his maiden call-up to the Indian team for the T20 series against Sri Lanka. Sundar, who bats left-handed and bowls right-arm off- spin, was picked earlier this year as a replacement for injured Ravichandran Ashwin in Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) in IPL-10 and he hasn't looked back since then, putting up impressive performances in whatever opportunities he got.
"It is a dream to be part of the Indian team. My father and coaches, including M Senthilnathan, have played a big role in shaping me as a cricketer," Washington said. The 18-year-old from Tamil Nadu said he was relieved to have finally cleared the 'Yo-Yo' test, having flunked it a couple of months ago.
"I worked hard after failing to clear the Yo-Yo test. Having got through now, it was a big relief," he said. Washington got a chance to bowl at top batsmen in the nets including RPS captain Steve Smith, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and IPL's highest paid foreign player Ben Stokes.
A top-order batsman, he began bowling more on the advice of Indian Under-19 coach Rahul Dravid and played a key role in his state team, Tamil Nadu's Vijay Hazare Trophy and Deodhar Trophy victories this season. His father is overjoyed at his inclusion in the national T20 squad.
"As a father and coach I am very happy. Every cricketer wants this (to play for the country). To get picked in the national team at the age of 18 is a dream and I am thrilled for Washi," Sundar, who named his son after his mentor P D Washington, said.
Sundar Senior recalled Washington's performances in the Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh last year.
"Washington did very well in the Under-19 World Cup and the selectors took notice. He bowled very well, especially in the final against West Indies, when he gave away just 18 runs in nine overs. He also did well with the bat," Sundar said.
"Washi also bowled very well and economical spells in the shorter format of the game (as Tamil Nadu won the Vijay Hazare Trophy and Deodhar Trophy)," he added.
Washington scored a century against Tripura in the Ranji Trophy as an opener but surprisingly didn't get another chance to play at the top of the order in subsequent matches. "He is a genuine opener and has done well whenever he has got the chance to bat at the top," the young left-hander's father said.
(With PTI inputs)