Tamil Nadu all-rounder Washington Sundar will reportedly feature as Team India's first-choice off-spinner moving forward. Ravichandran Ashwin, who has held the role in the recent past, is likely to be preserved for the longer format as the team management looks to hit the reset button on the T20I side.
The selectors are reportedly on the lookout to bring in and groom younger players for the shortest format following Team India's semi-final exit from the T20 World Cup 2022. The comprehensive manner of the defeat against England has raised several questions about the team's approach, selection, and personnel.
Ashwin emerged as a surprise call-up in the buildup to the tournament in Australia. But the senior off-spinner had a lukewarm tournament as India chose to field two finger-spinners, with Yuzvendra Chahal missing out on featuring in the T20 World Cup for the second year in a row.
Suggesting that the management would prefer Washington Sundar in the upcoming T20I games over Ashwin, a selection committee member told InsideSport:
“There is no doubt Washington is a very capable player. In fact, he was our first choice after 2021 WC. But his progress has been dampened by far too many injuries."
The official added:
"He is injury free now and would play a crucial role. Ashwin has a big role to play in WC next year and needs to be at his prime to tackle both Test and ODIs. Hence, Washington definitely play a lot of T20s considering he is fit.”
Sundar's career in recent years has been riddled with injury issues. He was ruled out of the tour of England last year following an injury in a warm-up contest.
In 2022, a spilt webbing meant that he missed five matches in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 edition. Following the recovery he was named in the squad to tour Zimbabwe for a three-match ODI series, but a shoulder injury during his county stint with Lancashire meant that Shahbaz Ahmed availed the opportunity instead.
"He will have to manage his body a bit better" - Selection committee member on how Washington Sundar can cement his place
Washington Sundar was last seen in the recently concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy. He has been named in the Team India squad to face New Zealand in a white-ball series, beginning on November 18.
Noting that the upcoming set of matches against the Kiwis will be a good chance for the 2016 U-19 World Cup member to prove his mettle, the official said:
“Definitely, a lot of eyes will be on Washington. He has what it takes to succeed. He will have to manage his body a bit better. NZ tour is where he will make a return and if he does well, he will be in contention always."
The selection committee member also provided an update regarding Ashwin's future in national colors when it comes to the shortest format. He said:
"We haven’t spoken to him about his T20 future after WC. They have just returned. Once we speak to captain and coach, we will make a decision."
India's tour of New Zealand will begin with the first T20I on November 18 at the Wellington Regional Stadium. With the senior players being rested, the side will be led by Hardik Pandya.
Is Washington Sundar a good fit for the Indian T20I setup over Ashwin? Let us know what you think.
Also Read: T20 World Cup 2022: Babar Azam asked question about IPL in post-match press conference; media manager forced to intervene
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