Are they just excellent powers of deduction, or is it borderline telepathy? Whatever the case, Washington Sundar has been reading batsmen beautifully through the Nidahas Trophy, and now has some staggering stats to show for it.
It is impressive enough that at 18 years of age, he is the most penetrative bowler on show, having taken seven wickets - three of those on Wednesday against Bangladesh. But there is more: he is also the most economical bowler in the competition, his 5.87 runs an over better even than those who have only delivered one or two overs in the Nidahas Trophy. Most astonishing of all, 11 of his 16 overs have been bowled in the Powerplay. Mushfiqur Rahim and Shikhar Dhawan have been outstanding with the bat, but if a tournament MVP was to be selected at this stage, Sundar is a strong contender.
On Wednesday, he effectively sunk Bangladesh's chase all on his own. In his first over, Liton Das ran down the pitch to hit him over mid off, but next ball, he saw Liton coming, and fired the ball wide, to have the batsman stumped. Next over, perhaps sensing a big shot from Soumya Sarkar, Sundar hit leg stump with a dart, the batsman heaving fruitlessly to leg. In the final over of the Powerplay: a crucial strike. Having failed to score off two consecutive Sundar deliveries, Tamim Iqbal shuffled toward the off side to attempt an over-the-shoulder shovel shot, but was beaten by another flat delivery, and also had his leg stump rattled. Bangladesh were 40 for 3 in the sixth over; they did not recover from that start.
"It is important to read the mind," Sundar said, after returning figures of 3 for 22 from four overs. "I myself am a batsman to an extent; I can suspect what he is thinking and where he is going to hit me. Every six balls, the batsman will be looking to hit you at least for a four and six. I am fortunate to have the skill of taking wickets in the Powerplay."
Almost as good as Sundar, but not quite, has been the other frontline spinner in India's ranks: Yuzvendra Chahal. With five dismissals in the tournament, he is fourth on the wicket-takers' list, with an economy rate of 6.93. After Sundar had delivered his excellent opening spell on Wednesday, Chahal ensured Bangladesh's confident middle order did not make a serious resurgence. He took 1 for 21 from his four overs.
"It is not an easy wicket to defend any kind of total," Sundar said. "Last game, Bangladesh chased down 215. Mine and Yuzvendra Chahal's eight overs were crucial. Both of us bowled well."
Sundar has one more major test before he leaves Sri Lanka. Sunday's final will be his biggest match so far for India, though if he continues in the vein he has begun, he has a long limited-overs future ahead of him. In four outings so far, he is yet to concede as many as 30 from his four overs, but batsmen will now have learned a little about him, and will arrive at that match with more detailed plans on how to counter him in the early overs.
"Powerplay bowling is definitely challenging. That is why you play cricket. When you win those challenges, you get a lot of satisfaction. That is how I look at bowling at Powerplays. It is a very good feeling when you bowl under six every game. Both the other teams are pretty good in limited overs. Hopefully, we can win in the final."