Washington Sundar and his extended fairy tale!
He brings out an equivalent of his Gabba no-look shot at the Chepauk, but prefers to watch this sail over the fence. He doesn’t want to miss out on admiring his own shot like he missed out last time!
Washington Sundar doesn’t seem to understand. Someone needs to tell him he is not batting in the nets. They need to tell him that international cricket has something called a settling in phase. Apparently no one wants to tell him and he doesn’t want to listen. He needed almost 10 unfortunate injuries to break into the Indian test XI, but all he needed to show everyone that he belonged, was just 1 outing. He has done it 3 consecutive times now, just to be sure.
66, 22 and 85* ! These are scores from the southpaw in his first 3 outings with the bat. Don’t be deceived by that 22, which was the cornerstone in that historic run chase at the Gabba earlier this year. Sundar has walked in each time, when his team needed runs, big runs. They needed slow runs once, they needed quick runs the other time. They needed him to shepherd the tail once, they needed him to guard the set Rishabh Pant, the other time. That’s about how broad the range of roles a lower order batsman would face in his entire career. Sundar has seen them all in 3 innings, double checked each of the boxes.
Day 3 at the Chepauk and England are right on top, their spinners are already putting up a better show than their Indian counterparts. They have conquered Kohli with some drift and dip. They are threatening to enforce the follow-on. But, Sundar doesn’t seem to understand the gravity of the situation. With India 5 down, he joins Rishabh Pant who has been there pummeling the spinners in his own way.
Some stretches, a bit of chatter with his partner and some shadow practice later, Washington Sundar puts his long levers into immediate use. His peripheral vision sees a lot of rough outside his off stump as Bess operates over the wicket. Sundar, stretches forward, so much forward, that he takes the rough completely out of the equation and gives his hamstring a preview of what’s coming. Some more forward presses and some riding of the bounce off the back foot, is followed by a cover drive that screams for attention. His next scoring shots come in the form of a straight drive and a square cut, which are equally elegant. Sundar is busy adding weight to the theory that left handers are the prettier batsmen.
When Sundar resumes his innings on day 4, he has the senior Chennai mate, Ravichandran Ashwin for company. The Tamil Nadu born takes a liking to Bess, who was the chief tormentor on day 3. In a span of just two overs Sundar shows his whole range, a cut past short cover and a drive past the bowler. When Archer steams in, it should have been an entirely different proposition. But, Washington doesn’t understand. Even the top order batsmen hang back on their back foot when playing someone as fast as Jofra. But Sundar brings out the on-drive looking Sangakkara like, when Archer errs on the fuller side.
Several upright punches, drives and flicks later, Sundar would play one final shot which would erase any lingering doubt that he is more than an accomplished bat. Here was the world’s best pacer bowling a good length ball and Sundar just doesn’t understand. He brings out an equivalent of his Gabba no-look shot, but prefers to watch this one sail over the fence. He doesn’t want to miss out on admiring his own shot like he missed out at the Gabba. Washington Sundar is struck on 85 when the last wicket falls, but he has given India a glimmer of hope.
There is still a lot to be desired from Sundar, the test bowler. But that is for another day and another piece. The 21 year old has already put himself in a nice place for the 2nd test when the local crowd would be chanting his name and would probably sing the tune of “Vaathi Coming” to his entrance, the latest blockbuster tune in town. Washington Sundar meanwhile would be contemplating something special in return.