Chance for Washington to make a mark: Raju

Former National selector SL Venkatapathy Raju believes that the off-spinning all-rounder has an excellent opportunity to impress in the Zimbabwe tour.
Washington Sundar
Washington Sundar

CHENNAI: With Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja having retired from the T20Is, the tour of Zimbabwe, where India will play five matches, will be all about finding replacements and building a pool of players for the next T20 World Cup.

One among them will be Washington Sundar. While India played three left-arm spinners against South Africa in the final, that may not be the case any more. With Jadeja’s retirement, Axar Patel has moved up the pecking order and so has Kuldeep Yadav. As a result, the focus turns to other spin-bowling all-rounders in Washington.

Former National selector SL Venkatapathy Raju believes that the off-spinning all-rounder has an excellent opportunity to impress in the Zimbabwe tour. “With Jadeja’s retirement from the shortest format, Axar with his all-round ability will automatically be the first choice spinner. Plus India can no longer play three left-arm spinners as there is none (third spinner) who can walk into the team. So Washington has a good opportunity to impress and try to get the second spinner’s spot,” said Venkatapathy Raju.

Washington was once a regular in the scheme of things for India in white-ball cricket but injuries forced him to be in and out of the squad. “He is now back as part of the India squad against Zimbabwe and if he works on his fitness and stays injury-free, he will get a lot more opportunities to play for India as there is no doubt about his talent and potential,” opined Raju.

After R Ashwin, Washington is the best off-spinner in the country and his ability to bat any position means that if properly guided he has the potential to serve India for a long time. “Apart from R Ashwin, there is no other off-spinner in the country who has made any impact. After Ashwin, Washington is the most talented off-spinner in the country. He (Washi) is still young and has it in him to do well at the highest level,” insisted Raju.

Raju believes that India should try out more options and build a team for the next World Cup. He also makes an important point and insists that one should give the spinners ample opportunities to prove their worth. Washington, before the Zimbabwe tour, played a couple of league games for his club Globe Trotters in the First Division league of the TNCA league and was among wickets.

“When you are in and out of the team, there is pressure to perform when you come back and play. This affects your rhythm. So since as you said Washi played TNCA league cricket, he will not be rusty and thus when he gets an opportunity he will be able to deliver,” said the former Hyderabad captain. “Washi, mostly from what I have seen, only bats in the middle order.

But there could be a situation when the team wants a youngster to bat higher in order (like how Axar Patel goes up the order) to surprise the opponent. So in T20 if you have the requisite batting skills you have to be prepared to bat at any position. So at the highest level it is all in the mind. One must tune one self to adapt to any situation,” signed off Raju.

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The New Indian Express