With Washington Sundar playing a big role in India’s comeback win against England, Ravi Shastri has admitted that the youngster has a far more natural ability than he ever had. While stating that, Shastri also complimented the other youngsters while praising Axar for taking his opportunities.
After India nearly made a mess of the series in Ahmedabad, with the bat, their comeback with the ball ensured that there was no hiccup in their 2-1 lead over England in the four-match series. From thereon, England had mentally given up, which led to an easy win for India in the end. In the fourth Test, it was far from over for England, when they had reduced India to a scary position.
However, up stepped Washington Sundar, who brought out his best performance in the Indian whites, with an unbeaten 96, where he built a potent partnership with Rishabh Pant and later Axar Patel. India’s head coach Ravi Shastri admitted that Washington has a far more natural ability than he ever had as a player in the Indian colours. He also stated that the left-hander should play in the top-order for his state side, Tamil Nadu.
“Washington has far more natural ability than I ever had. But definitely, I think he should be batting in the Top 4 for his state. There is no question about that. If I have to have a word with any of the TN selectors or skipper DK, I think he should be batting in the Top 4. He is good enough, he belongs there, he has the ability and he can get a lot of runs,” Shastri told pressers in the online press conference
However, Shastri insisted that the left-handed batsman should also focus on his bowling, where he should aim to pick wickets, which could easily help him keep his place in the Indian team.
“And, at the same time, if he could also focus on his bowling, India could have a very good number 6. Someone who can get you 60 or 70 and bowl 20 overs and pick 3 wickets. That was my role overseas, but I think he can do that role easily and even better.”
Shastri, who made his debut as a youngster back in the day, also stated that he could relate to the youngsters and their accomplishments. He added that it is a great feeling and opportunity to see the youngsters shine on the biggest stage - Test cricket.
“I can relate to what these youngsters have accomplished. Because at 21/22, I had similar success. I had hundreds overseas so I can relate to what these guys have done. I think quality that comes is you can never take away the exuberance of youth. When you’re young, you don’t carry baggage, you’re not afraid. It’s only when the baggage and the pressure comes in, life starts,” he added.
The 58-year-old also compared 21-year-old Sundar's innings in Brisbane, adding that the innings in Ahmedabad would triumph it, especially with the World Test Championship final on the line.
“I would say this was an even better innings than Brisbane (from Washi). Because you are playing at home, with the WTC on the line. You are 50 adrift of the opposition and your objective is to get 205. But these youngsters are not thinking like that. They are playing normal cricket. They are playing fearless cricket. And they are playing free cricket,” he added.
Meanwhile, in regards to Axar Patel, who picked up the best figures for a left-arm spinner in his debut series, Shastri insisted that the 27-year-old has been very unlucky to have been hit with injuries in the past. However, he added that after recovering from his injury, Axar has cemented his place and made the most of the opportunity. He also revealed that there could be a possibility that India could feature the trio of Ashwin-Jadeja-Axar in a home Test in the future.
“Axar Patel? Seasoned campaigner. I wouldn’t call him a youngster. He’s been around the Indian team around the years and he’s been very unlucky with injuries. A lot of other players, including Jadeja and Krunal Pandya, have gotten opportunities because he got injured at the wrong time. This is the time when he was injury-free and he made the most of it. Jadeja, arguably the best all-rounder in the world, didn’t play, but someone else grabbed an opportunity. When Jadeja comes in and the three - Ashwin, Jadeja and Axar - play together, there will be fun.”