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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

T Natarajan: How ‘Yorker King’ took pace off the ball to trouble the Kangaroos

T Natarajan was only supposed to travel with the squad as a net bowler. However, his performances with the white-ball make him a vital asset in the Indian team.

Written by Rahul Sadhu | Updated: December 9, 2020 8:14:49 am
India's Thangarasu Natarajan in action. (Reuters)

“T Natarajan is coming beautifully, he can be an asset for us in white-ball cricket,” India captain Virat Kohli had said after the first T20I against Australia in Canberra. True to his observation, Natarajan did make a mark in the second T20I in Sydney where close to 400 runs were scored by the two teams but he stood out with figures of 4-0-20-2.

In the two other matches that he played during India’s ongoing tour of Australia, Natarajan’s performance — 10-1-70-2 (3rd ODI) and 4-0-30-3 (1st T20I) culminated in victories for the men in blue. This was at a time when his fellow teammates went at more than eight or nine runs per over. Natarajan’s inclusion also adds a new dimension to the Indian bowling attack since he is the only left-armer among the current crop of Indian seamers.

Thus for Thangarasu Natarajan, who hails from Chinnappampatti (a small village in Salem district in India), it has been nothing but a dream start to his international career. But will his perfect beginning finally end India’s search for a left-arm pacer?

Impact

For someone who is known for his spot-on yorkers and is dubbed as the ‘Yorker King’ in his native place, Natarajan found help in the second T20I when he made smart changes to his line and length and took pace off the ball.

Brought into the attack when the Australians were going at more than 10 runs per over, it was Natarajan who got the breakthrough for his captain with a bouncer which got the better of D’Arcy Short and led to a loss in momentum early on for the home team.

T Natarajan was impressive with the ball in the second T20I in Sydney. (Screengrab)

Taking pace off was the key in the first innings. With pace on, the Australians scored at almost 10 runs per over but without it, the run rate dropped to 8.66. The wicket of Moises Henriques is another example where Natarajan bowled a slower off-cutter to induce the outside edge and outfox the batsman.

In Sydney, Natarajan conceded just one run in his first over, six in his second, five in his third over, and eight in his final over which was why his economy rate touched above five.

Hence, it was not without a reason that player of the match, Hardik Pandya said, “I thought he should be the Man of the Match, because the bowlers struggled here and he had a really good game.”

Credit also goes to the team management for backing the left-armer, felt former India seamer Irfan Pathan.

“We are always a bit harsh on selectors but credit should be given when it’s due. Credit to sectors for using the current form of T Natarajan by selecting him at the right time,” Pathan pointed out on social media.”

How far Natarajan goes, only time will tell but if he does sustain this initial euphoria then he will surely become an invaluable asset for India’s T20 team.

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