Former Indian batsman Mohammad Kaif has acknowledged that Washington Sundar's superb knock in India's first innings of the ongoing Brisbane Test surprised him, as he did not think the lanky off-spinner had batting potential.
Washington Sundar scored a classy innings of 62 runs on the third day of the fourth Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. He also strung together a record-123-run seventh-wicket partnership with Shardul Thakur to bail India out of a precarious position and concede only a 33-run first-innings lead.
During a discussion on the Sony Sports network, Mohammad Kaif mentioned that as he was not convinced about Washington Sundar's batting prowess, he used to question the player's promotion up the order.
"When it was being said that he could bat, he was sent up the order quite a few times in the IPL and even for the Indian team, I used to question that because I felt he is not a good batsman, and his record is not that good."
Kaif admitted Washington Sundar's innings in Brisbane pleasantly surprised him and hopes that the Indian team management backs the youngster to the hilt.
"But today after watching him play, I admit my mistake and agree that he has the potential and the talent. The Indian team management should help him to enhance his game further. His innings today shows that he has the ability for us to back him, and he should be given the opportunities."
Washington Sundar should not be considered as a batsman - Mohammad Kaif
Mohammad Kaif observed the Indian team should treat Washington Sundar as a bowling all-rounder and not move him up the order because of his batting ability.
"But they should not make the mistake of considering him as a batsman. His main game should be his bowling, and batting comes after that. At times, the Indian team becomes tempted to send him up the order now that he can bat. They should keep his (batting) number the same and focus on his bowling."
Kaif lauded Washington Sundar for his stroke-play, particularly the six over mid-wicket off Nathan Lyon.
"He made 62 runs and scored in all the areas. He played the pull and the cut. He hit Nathan Lyon over mid-wicket against the spin, which was an excellent shot, as no one generally plays a shot like that against Lyon. So, it is a good sign that India do not have 7-8 main players, but the young players are calling the shots too."
With Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin unavailable for the Brisbane Test, the Indian team preferred to play Washington Sundar ahead of Kuldeep Yadav to add some depth to their batting.
The lanky all-rounder did not let his team down with his all-round performance. After bagging three wickets in the hosts' first innings, Washington Sundar's elegant half-century - the highest score by a visiting number 7 Test debutant in Australia - enabled India score 150 more runs after slipping to 186-6.