CHENNAI: A couple of days before their Vijay Hazare Trophy clash against Tripura, Tamil Nadu had received a big boost, with Murali Vijay and Washington Sundar returning to their ranks.
On Wednesday, when the two took to the field at the IIT-Chemplast ground against Tripura, Vijay’s comeback to the domestic fold lasted only 14 balls.
But Washington had a more productive outing. A decent return of 2/37 from his 10 overs seemed to indicate that he’d taken his ankle-injury-induced side-lining of five-odd months in his stride. Even the crowd at venue was behind the off-spinning all-rounder, mobbing him after the end of the clash.
“It feels good to be back after a such long time. I am enjoying my stint in the middle. That phase was very difficult. I do not really want to think about it. I wish to focus on the present and improve my game,’’ said the 18-year-old, after his team had cantered to an eight-wicket win courtesy Abhinav Mukund’s unbeaten 131.
“I spent a lot of time with my family. Consciously, I tried to forget what had happened. I slowly started working on my ankle. Things went smoothly. I started batting and had good training. I have been bowling for the last two, three weeks. Today, I did not have any problem and bowled with a good rhythm,” said Washington.
His family wasn’t his only cornerstone during that period, going by Washington’s words. “When I picked up my injury, the selectors asked me not to rush in to play. Instead, they asked me to get back to cricket after I recovered well. I am happy that I’ve finally gotten back to doing it.”
But, getting back into the national scheme of things isn’t what Washington’s mind is occupied with. Fitness — an aspect that was picked upon when he failed the yo-yo test last year, along with a few senior players — is his top priority.
“I do not want to think about it a comeback at the moment. I just want to enjoy my game and keep getting better. I have already cleared the yo-yo test a week ago in Bengaluru (he’d spent two months at National Cricket Academy) before coming to Chennai.
“I do not think it is easy. You needs to work on so many things before taking it. I got a couple of weeks to work on that and I cleared it.’’
With the presence of a mystery-spinner in the form of Varun Chakaravarthy on Tamil Nadu’s roster, one might be tempted to think that Washington too may be tempted to add some tricks to his arsenal. But, being a bowler who has solely relied on accuracy instead of wiles, the Thoothukudi native feels that sticking to his guns is his best way forward.
“Everyone has their own strengths. I have to keep working on whatever suits me. It will be good to add variations, but I will do it when it is necessary. I am not desperate at the moment. I believe in my bowling and my abilities.”
South teams in action today
In Bengaluru: Karnataka vs Railways
In Delhi: Kerala vs Uttar Pradesh, Odisha vs Saurashtra
In Vadodara: Arunachal Pradesh vs Puducherry
No matches in Chennai
Elite Group C
Tripura 196 in 46.4 ovs (Patel 60; Davidson 3/46) lost to Tamil Nadu 197/2 in 31.2 ovs (Mukund 131 n.o, Jagadeesan 40).
Rajasthan 218/8 in 50 ovs (Manender 50, Salman 60; Rasool 3/36) lost to Jammu & Kashmir 179/7 in 35.3 ovs (Khajuria 57, Chauhan 51; Rahul 3/37). J&k won by VJD method.
Haryana 247/7 in 50 ovs (Rana 67; Gaja 3/44) bt Gujarat 203 in 46.1 ovs (Chirag 52; Jayant 3/35).