IPL 2018 auction: Why Washington Sundar is the perfect fit for Chennai Super Kings
If you turn the clock back by 365 days, Washington Sundar was a failure in his maiden Ranji Trophy season and was not even included in the Tamil Nadu team for the inter-zonal T20 tournament. Yet he registered himself for the IPL auction, however, the auctioneer didn't even call out his name and the teenager went unsold in the 2017 IPL auction.
Washington did well in the Vijay Hazare trophy that followed the auction and out of nowhere, he was called by the Rising Pune Supergiant team management for a trial to replace the injured off-spinner R Ashwin. To his surprise, he was picked by the franchise and was given an IPL contract. His career took a turn for good as he played for them, bowled two brilliant spells against Mumbai Indians in the first qualifier and the final, and made a name for himself.
The youngster followed his IPL heroics with some brilliant performances in the 2017 TNPL, which should have ideally been renamed as Washington Sundar's TNPL as he starred with both and ball and ended as the leading run scorer and the leading wicket-taker in the tournament. He carried his confidence into the Ranji Trophy and had a very good season that saw him perform well with both bat and ball.
Then came the biggest moment in his cricketing career as he was called up to the Indian team for the T20Is against Sri Lanka and after a few days, he was even drafted into the ODI side to face the Lankans as a replacement for injured Kedar Jadhav.
He then went on to make his ODI and T20I debut in the space of ten days. Now, he is not only coming into the 2018 auction as a capped player but is also expected to go for a huge price ahead of 2018 IPL.
Who will buy Washington Sundar in the IPL auction?
The all-rounder was a part of the Rising Pune Supergiant squad last season and impressed everyone during his stint with Steve Smith and co. This year, he cannot be retained by any team and will enter the auction pool. Therefore, it is certain that a lot of teams will be involved in a bidding war for the 18-year-old all-rounder and his home team, Chennai Super Kings could end up buying him in the auction.
With the franchise returning from a two-year suspension, they will look to have some local names in their squad and with all due respect to other players, there are not many better than Washington in the state side.
The youngster is one of the most exciting talents around the country.
R Ashwin was not retained by the franchise in the retention and there are chances that he might be by picked by another team. The offie is one of the few Tamil Nadu players who have played for the Super Kings in the past but except Ashwin, Badrinath and Murali Vijay, none of the other local players were given enough chances to prove themselves for the IPL side.
The likes of Vijay Shankar, C Ganapathy, Palani Amarnath, Yo Mahesh hardly played for MS Dhoni and co. and there were a few players who were made to warm the bench for more than two years. But, in Washington's case, he is too good to be left out of the side.
What does he bring to the table?
Just like Ashwin, Washington is an off-spinner, who is capable of bowling in the field restriction overs. In fact, he bowls most of his overs inside the first six overs and chokes the scoring rate of the opposition team early in their innings.
Having an economy of 6.14 in spite of being a spinner who bowls a lot in the first few overs, is a fantastic achievement. In the 11 T20 matches he has played so far, he has bowled to the likes of David Warner, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Kieron Pollard, Rohit Sharma, Gautam Gambhir, Shikhar Dhawan, Robin Uthappa, Sunil Narine, Brendon McCullum etc. and has come out on top on majority of those occasions.
As the wickets in Chennai's home ground, MA Chidambaram stadium, traditionally assists the spinners irrespective of the format, Washington fits in the bill perfectly. Even if they buy back Ashwin in the auction, Washington will come in handy as the third spinner, a role that MS Dhoni always prefers in the IPL.
Apart from being an economical bowler, Washington is also a fantastic batsman, something that might come as a surprise to many. He opens the batting for Tamil Nadu and his TNPL side in the T20 format. His only century in first-class Cricket (159) came as an opener.
He averages 32 with the bat in 17 first-class innings and 17.33 in T20s where he batted below number seven on a majority of the occasions. He will provide Chennai Super Kings the luxury of an opening batsman and a bowler, who has the ability to keep things tight.
Even if the team management wants a middle-order batsman to steady the ship after two early wickets so that the big hitters can come to bat in the later stages of the innings, the role Badrinath was doing to perfection when he was around, Washington is the right man for the job and in fact, he scores his runs at a better rate than the former Tamil Nadu batsman. Having said this, a team can only get the best out of him as a batsman if he opens the innings.
After the kind of year he has had, it won't be a surprise if Washington goes for a huge price in the auction and is bought by his home team, something that he will be hoping as well.