Ravi Shastri was both Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev’s go-to-man with his all-round abilities during the ’80s and the Indian head coach firmly believes that young Washington Sundar could play a similar role in the current Test team.
“I think Washy has far more natural ability than I had,” said Shastri during a virtual press meet on Sunday.
“He has the ability and he belongs at this level. He can go a long way. If he could focus on his bowling (in Tests), India could have a very good number six for overseas conditions.
“Someone who can get you those 50s, 60s and 70s and then bowl for you 20 overs and can pick up 2-3 wickets. That was my role overseas (during the whole of 1980s) and I think he can do that role easily,” he added.
Shastri further suggested that Sundar’s state Tamil Nadu should consider sending him at the top of the order.
“He should be batting in the top four for his state. There is no question about that. I would like to have a word with Tamil Nadu selectors or DK (captain Dinesh Karthik) for that matter. I think he should be batting in the top four,” Shastri said.
For Shastri, Washington’s innings of 96, coming in at 153 for 6, was a better effort than his 85 not out in Chennai.
“Facing some of the toughest bowlers in the world. I would say this innings was far better as the WTC was on the line,” he said.
Shastri felt he could relate to the youngsters in the squad because he had also tasted overseas success as a youngster.
“At 21, 22 or 23, I had similar success, so I can relate to them as I scored hundreds overseas. What you can never take away is the exuberance of youth. It’s only when the baggage comes of being a known quantity and that’s when life starts.”
“Rishabh Pant, he came in after IPL with a lot of baggage and that showed in his size. He had to lose that (weight) which he did. He worked his backside off. I can tell you that he has trained harder than anyone else,” Shastri said.
“A brilliant match-winner, playing to his potential and there is no greater sight than that. There won’t be many who would be able to do that in a lifetime,” said Shastri.