I love the challenge of bowling in Powerplay: Washington Sundar

CHENNAI: Washington Sundar may just be 17, but in this IPL, he has shown his maturity. The Pune offie, with 8 scalps from 10 games, has been Steve Smith’s go-to man during the Powerplay overs. With an impressive economy rate of 6.61, Washington has surely made all the right noises. In a chat with TOI on Thursday, Washington spoke of the strong bond he has formed with MS Dhoni, on not trying too many things and more. Excerpts:

You grew up idolizing Dhoni and now got an opportunity to play with him. Talk us about the inputs he gave and the rapport you both share?

I don’t think you can have a better person behind the stumps than Mahi bhai. He is the first person I approach whenever I need to know what the batsman is trying to do. His inputs, which are simple, create a huge impact.

Could you reveal instances where his inputs worked?

There are not just one but many occasions when his inputs did wonders. Mahi bhai is not only a great wicketkeeper but also a fantastic reader of the game. There have been occasions when I have faced dilemma and in each of those instances, I have gone on to follow exactly what he has asked me to. I really trust Mahi bhai’s instincts.

Whose wickets have given you maximum satisfaction?

I thought the wickets of Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard in the first qualifier in Mumbai were quite satisfying. Both are top-quality players and to get their wickets gave me a lot of self-belief. Also, the wicket of Corey Anderson – stumped by Mahi bhai – in the game against Delhi was memorable. The ball moved away from Corey and Dhoni had the bails off in a flash.

You are making a habit of dismissing impact players such as Gautam Gambhir, Pollard, Rohit among others. Talk us about the work you have done on nabbing the big fish?

It does make me feel happy bowling in six overs. To be able to get the best of the batsmen is what gives any bowler happiness. The batsmen will just go after you from the first ball and with just two fielders outside the circle – bowling at the Powerplay overs is challenging and exciting at the same time.

Talk us about your debut and how you prepared for it?

After the game against Bangalore (on April 16), our next game was with Hyderabad at home on April 22. Coach Stephen Fleming told me to be ready for it since Hyderabad had three left-handers in their top-five. I had fair amount of time to prepare myself both mentally and physically. The moment I felt the electrifying atmosphere in the stadium, my nervousness went away. With regards to preparation, I closely study the top-7 or 8 of any team I play against. In my debut game against Hyderabad, the plan for someone like David Warner was to not give him room to free his arms. He has shots all over the ground, and the trick was to bowl slightly wider so that he doesn’t connect. When it comes to right-handers, you have to be very precise with your length but at the same time vary your pace so that you don’t become predictable.

 You started off as a wicketkeeper, then became a top-order batsman and now are a dependable off-spinner. Does it bother you that your batting skills have taken a backseat in IPL?

The biggest positive for me in this season has been that I have evolved as an off-spinner. It doesn’t bother me that my batting skills have been under-utilized as long as I am getting to play a game. I am just 17 and getting to contribute in some way for my franchise is what keeps me motivated.
Are you happy doing the simple things or would you want to add more variations to your bowling?

Doing the simple things is never easy. Only if you do those simple things for a prolonged period of time, you would be a successful player. As of now, I am happy with what I am doing. I don’t want to experiment and do anything different. But going forward, I would want to add more variations.
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