PARTAB RAMCHAND | 23 MARCH, 2018
Washington Sundar, all rounder
Nidhas Trophy Victory Underlines India’s Bench Strength
If any further proof was required of India’s impressive bench strength the victory in the Nidahas trophy in Colombo provided it. Yes, granted it was not a major triumph, there were only two other teams in the fray and neither of them enjoy a very high place in the ICC T-20 rankings with Sri Lanka at No 8 and Bangladesh at No 10 compared to India’s third spot. But both the sides were at full strength or near full strength while the Indians were strictly a B team.
In a way it was apt for the selectors to rest the leading players and send a second string side for it gave the budding youngsters an opportunity to play international cricket at the right time and not unexpectedly those who got the chance grabbed it with both hands to show that with more experience they could wear the India cap at major events too. And none emphasized this more than the Tamil Nadu duo of Vijay Shankar and Washington Sundar.
Limited overs cricket is all about bits and pieces cricketers and among the young lot these two players underscore the importance of having utility players. Sundar of course has made rapid strides since he first played for India three months ago. He has not got any batting opportunities but with the ball he has been very effective and appears to be a good investment for the future especially as he is only 18. To be adjudged player of the series in the Nidahas trophy at this tender age underlines the prodigious talent of this off spinning all rounder.
Like Ravi Ashwin Sundar started out as a batsman – and he has a first class hundred to prove his credentials with the bat even if he has not the opportunity in the one ODI and the six T-20 internationals he has played - but right now it is his bowling that is attracting attention. Shankar too in his limited opportunities has impressed and has shown promise of bigger deeds in future.
Even if the opposition consisted of only Sri Lanka and Bangladesh the matches were played with a high intensity and Bangladesh in particular did not hide the fact that they were very keen on emerging champions and played as if the lives of the players depended on it. Bangladesh have also been highly passionate about their cricket whether it involves the players, administrators, coaches or fans. This sometimes spills over to the kind of deplorable behavior they showed in the match against Sri Lanka. The home team of course was very keen on winning a trophy named after their independence and asked for no quarter while giving none. All this puts India’s victory in proper perspective.
A glance at the squad and it can be seen that it was indeed a new look side that was sent to Colombo. Besides Sundar and Shankar there was Deepak Hooda, Mohammed Siraj, Rishab Pant and Shardal Thakur with the likes of Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik and Jaydev Unadkat making comebacks of sorts. None of these players would normally be part of the regular India limited overs squad and those missing included Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Kuldeep Yadav, Kedar Pandey, MS Dhoni, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shammi. Under the circumstances it was a worthy victory over tough opposition for Rohit Sharma and his young squad.
If anything the performance showed that the senior players, even the established ones, cannot take their place for granted. They have to perform or their places will be given to suitable replacements, the like of which Indian cricket has aplenty. And this can only augur well for the future what with the World Cup in England just over a year from now.