'It is a dream to be part of the Indian team. My father (Sundar) and coaches, including M Senthilnathan, have played a big role in shaping me as a cricketer'
Savouring his maiden call-up to the Indian team for the T20 series against Sri Lanka, all-rounder Washington Sundar on Tuesday expressed gratitude to his father and formative coaches for shaping his cricketing career.
Sundar, who bats left-handed and bowls right-arm off- spin, was picked earlier this year in the Indian Premier League -10 as a replacement for injured Ravichandran Ashwin in the Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) squad and since then hasn't looked back, putting up impressive performances in whatever opportunities that came his way.
"It is a dream to be part of the Indian team. My father (Sundar) and coaches, including M Senthilnathan, have played a big role in shaping me as a cricketer," Washington said.
The 18-year-old from Tamil Nadu said he was relieved to have finally cleared the 'Yo-Yo' test, having flunked it a couple of months ago.
"I worked hard after failing to clear the Yo-Yo test. Having got through now, it was a big relief," he said.
In the IPL, Washington got a chance to bowl at top batsmen in the nets, including RPS captain Steve Smith, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and IPL's highest paid foreign player Ben Stokes.
A top-order batsman, he began bowling more on the advice of Indian Under-19 coach Rahul Dravid and played a key role in his state team, Tamil Nadu's Vijay Hazare Trophy and Deodhar Trophy victories this season.
His father is overjoyed at his inclusion in the national T20 squad.
"As a father and coach I am very happy. Every cricketer wants this (to play for the country). To get picked in the national team at the age of 18 is a dream and I am thrilled for Washi," Sundar, who named his son after his mentor P D Washington, told PTI.
Sundar Senior recalled Washington's performances in the Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh last year.
"Washington did very well in the Under-19 World Cup and the selectors took notice. He bowled very well, especially in the final against West Indies, when he gave away just 18 runs in nine overs. He also did well with the bat," Sundar said.
"Washi also bowled very well and economical spells in the shorter format of the game (as Tamil Nadu won the Vijay Hazare Trophy and Deodhar Trophy)," he added.
Washington scored a ton against Tripura in the Ranji Trophy as an opener but surprisingly didn't get another chance to play at the top of the order in subsequent matches.
"He is a genuine opener and has done well whenever he has got the chance to bat at the top," the young left-hander's father said.
Meanwhile, former Tamil Nadu cricketer Senthilnathan, who has been Washington's coach at TNCA First Division side Globe Trotters said, "It is a great achievement at a young age. It is the first step he has taken. He has a long road ahead of him.
"He has done well as a bowler in the IPL, shone with the bat in Ranji Trophy and other tournaments. Now, it is time for him to prove his talent in the international level."
Senthilnathan, who has been coaching Washington since the age of 13, said it was important for his ward to learn to adapt fast.
"He is very talented and can be very good with bat and ball. I hope he can pick up the ability to adapt to various conditions and situations very soon," he added.