Washington Sundar is all set to make his Test debut when the series decider gets underway at the ‘Gabba’, Brisbane on Friday.
Both teams are locked 1-1 in what has been a dramatic series of fortune swings so far. India, though, has been hit by a spate of injuries.
R. Ashwin, during his heroic match-saving knock in Sydney, grappled with a sore back which makes him a doubtful starter in what is a back-to-back Test at the ‘Gabba’.
And then, the in-form Ravindra Jadeja is already out of the Test with a dislocated finger.
A success story in Twenty20 cricket for India so far, the lanky Washington has a fair record in first class cricket with 532 runs and 30 wickets in 12 matches.
His highest score of 159 came at the top of the order for Tamil Nadu and he is used to bowling long spells for Tamil Nadu with his off-spin in the absence of R. Ashwin.
The 21-year-old Washington stayed back with the Indian team as a net bowler in Australia following the limited over series.
His work ethics, ability, and a spate of injuries in the Indian camp has opened the path for him in Test cricket.
Washington could provide the balance to the line-up in the absence of Jadeja. He could bat usefully – he has this languid left-handed elegance about him – and bowl with his off-spinners with control.
If Ashwin is unfit and misses out, Washington will come in for him. Or if the think-tank plays Ashwin, given the significance of the occasion, Washington would be a cover for the senior all-rounder in the eleven.
Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav is an attacking option but playing Kuldeep for Jadeja will weaken the batting and make the tail very long.
So the spin combination could be Ashwin and Washington, or, if the former is not fit, Washington and Kuldeep.
The ‘Gabba’ is among the most lively surfaces in Australia and India would have to pick either Shardul Thakur or T. Natarajan for the injured Jasprit Bumrah, if the think-tank decides against risking the pace ace.
Shardul has greater experience but Natarajan provides the pace attack with an additional dimension – the left-armer’s angle.
Otherwise there would be a right-handed sameness about the pace Indian attack.
This much is, however, clear. Washington is poised to make his Test debut.