‘Decision to go for victory instinctively taken’

Taking the bull by the horns: Washington Sundar’s six of Pat Cummins exemplified India’s fearless approach.  

“If you believe in something, you’ve got to be prepared to die for it.” M. Sundar’s message in his WhatsApp status.

Washington’s father Sundar, a pace bowling all-rounder who was in the Tamil Nadu squad in the 90s, is his inspiration. “He has gone through so much in life, is so tough that he has shown the right path for me,” the 21-year-old rising young star told The Hindu on Saturday.

Heroic display

Washington’s performance in the epic Test at the Gabba is heroic. Three wickets in the first innings, including Steve Smith “bowling to a plan”, a fluent 62 when India was in the dumps in the first innings, dismissing David Warner and unlucky not to send back Smith in the second innings, and his game-changing 22 on the final day.

Taking us to the decisive moment on day five at the Gabba, Washington said, “It was a tense day and I watched every ball and, at that point, thought if India batted 98 overs for a draw it would be huge.”

Then, India lost wickets. “I had my pads on and Ajinkya [Rahane] and Rohit [Sharma] started teasing me.”

And then he walked in with India still needing more than 60. Washington took us right to the heat of the battle when he and Rishabh Pant met for a mid-pitch conversation.

“Pant asked ‘Who do you think will bowl the next over?’. ‘Cummins’ replied Washington. Then Pant said, ‘But he has already bowled plenty in this spell,” recalled Washington.

Instinctive decision

The decision to go for victory was “instinctively taken” said Washington. “There were more than 50 runs to go and, I thought, if we could get 25-30 runs quickly, then Australia would be under pressure and the rest of the runs would come easily.”

That really was the genesis of India breaching Fortress Gabba.

Washington decided to counter-attack dangerous Cummins. “I knew Cummins would bowl two bouncers and the rest of the deliveries would be short pitched.”

Cummins landed one short and Washington, light on his feet and quick with his reflexes, hooked him for an audacious six. The next ball was steered for four and the sluice gates were open again. “The plan worked,” he said.

Under attack in the pressure-cooker atmosphere, Australia panicked. Washington had decisively swung the match.

Nervous night

He conceded to being a tad nervous before the Test, after bowling coach B. Arun broke the news about him playing. “That night I went to bed around 10.30 p.m. but could not sleep till it was 1.30.”

Once the Test began, his trademark composure was back.

He bowled with control and Washington’s driving through the off-side was brilliant.. And he flicked Starc with grace. “Starc was fast, Cummins nippy and Hazlewood moved it both ways.”

Here, Washington took us to a little story on the tour. “I was not finding my batting rhythm, not getting my head and body position right during nets. But suddenly it all fell in place when I practised during the Sydney Test. I carried that to Brisbane.”

The rest is history.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 7:08:02 AM |

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