RPS have had many bowling heroes this season. Two of those, Ben Stokes and Imran Tahir, are not available for this final, but the likes of Jaydev Unadkat, Dan Christian, and Shardul Thakur have stepped up, with guest appearances from Fergusson and Zampa. Then, came an extraordinary performance from a teenager who had made debut in IPL2017.
Washington Sundar (born 5 October 1999) is an Indian cricketer. He is a left-handed batsman and right-arm off-spinner. He has played for the India national under-19 cricket team as a Batsman. He made his first-class debut for Tamil Nadu in the 2016–17 Ranji Trophy on 6 October 2016. In 2017 he was selected by Rising Pune Supergiant as a replacement for Ravichandran Ashwin. He made his Twenty20 debut for Rising Pune Supergiant s in the 2017 Indian Premier League on 22 April 2017. He is due to give his 12th board exams in non-affiliated St.pauls school, Ujjain.
Sundar was a batsman all along who never bowled in the nets. In matches, though, he "didn't like to just field for 50 overs or 20 overs or 90 overs". He had to be involved, so he would keep asking for a bowl. As he grew older he realised if he wanted to stay involved in the game throughout, he had to improve as a bowler and not just turn up and roll his arm over. He started bowling 30 to 40 minutes at every net. After representing India at the 2016 Under-19 World Cup, he replaced Ashwin at Rising Pune Supergiant in the 2017 IPL, and bowled at an impressive economy rate to help his side to the final.
Smith and Sundar combo:
Washington Sundar has mostly been used by Smith in the powerplay, especially when there are left-handers at the crease. Despite that, he has an economy rate of 6.61 to go with eight wickets so far, testifying to his control over with his innocuous looking off-spinners that barely turn.
Smith shared the same views and wanted to see himself lift the trophy along with the youngster in Hyderabad. Most importantly he was happy to see Sundar deliver on the big stage. Getting three big wickets on the big stage was no mean feat, and Smith hoped for a similar show come the grand finale.
“I am very proud to have big names in my pocket tonight,” Sundar added. “To have those three, especially in a game like qualifier one is a proud moment for me. It was a very heartening performance.”
With the likes of Smith and MS Dhoni in the team, Sundar has got an amazing opportunity to learn from the masters and become a favourite for Indian team selectors.