CHENNAI: “Against Mumbai (Indians) I took three for 16. Biggest day of my life, playing at Wankhede, with the likes of Ben Stokes, Steve Smith. Generally foreign cricketers won’t personally come and appreciate the players, but that day my skipper did,” recollects Washington Sundar, full on energy to carry his IPL success to the Tamil Nadu Premier League.
The 17-year-old has had a hectic year, playing Vijay Hazare Trophy, Deodhar Trophy, IPL, TNCA league matches before TNPL 2, where he represents Tuti Patriots, the defending champions. “Unlike IPL, I won’t have much pressure in this tournament. It’s about expressing yourself and enjoying the game. We don’t want to expect anything.”
A packed schedule demands players to be extra cautious about injuries. The off-spinner who bats in the middle-order has so far got this right, as he is still to miss a tournament because of fitness issues. With TNCA league matches ending a week before TNPL, Washington doesn’t see that as a problem for preparation. “I’ve been playing white ball cricket for some time. A couple of practice sessions will get the rhythm back for T20. It’s how you mentally prepare for different formats. Though you’d want to practise as a team, we know what we’re up to, thanks to the first edition where we gelled well.”
A CSK fan, he sees MS Dhoni as an idol. “It took me a few days to talk to MS. I was nervous. He initiated the conversation knowing I’m the youngest in the squad. He showed me a different perspective of the game and helped me improve my bowling,” beams Washington. With TNPL round the corner, he will be expected to shine for the defending champions when they take on Dindigul Dragons on July 22.