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T Natarajan has become a beast reincarnate. From a yorker specialist to a speedy, skiddy, reliable death bowler, Natarajan has developed his game post injury concerns. Though in the Wednesday, April 28 game against Gujarat Titans, Natarajan went wicketless, stats from seven games don’t lie.
In his first seven games for SRH this season, the former tennis ball bowler bowled 162 balls mostly at death and mostly yorkers and slow cutters. He has given away 218 runs and has taken 15 wickets at an average of 14.53. The economy rate is 8.07, which is a proof of controlled bowling in the batter friendly pitches of Mumbai and Pune.
As far as the match is concerned, Rashid Khan took the game away today with breathtaking hitting and Jansen could not cope. Twenty two runs from five balls in the last over is insane hitting but SRH missed Natarajan’s prowess in the last over. Only yorkers could have stopped Khan today, but they weren’t coming.
Nevertheless, Natarajan’s turnaround is quite remarkable considering he missed a major part of the last cricketing season and the T20 world cup due to injury. He would have been among the first names on the team sheet if not for the injury and dip in form. But now he is bowling his heart out and is placed currently 2nd among the list of highest wicket takers in IPL. He is behind Rajasthan Royals’ Chahal in the race for the purple cap.
Twenty two runs from five balls in the last over is insane hitting but SRH missed Natarajan’s prowess in the last over.
So what is fueling Natarajan’s second coming? It’s his desire to play in the T20 world cup in Australia. As Sunil Gavaskar told Star Sports in a post-match analysis, “It’s good to see him back because for some time it looked like Indian cricket had lost him. It’s good to have him back in contention. I am pretty sure, with the way he bowls between the 16th and the 20th over, he will be very much in contention [for the world cup].”
Initially all of this was surreal for T Natarajan. He wasn’t even a first choice bowler when he made his debut for team India. He came in for injured Tamilian architect-turned cricketer Varun Chakravarthy in T20Is. Once the T20Is got over he stayed back as a net bowler and was named part of the Test squad after Umesh Yadav was ruled out due to calf injury.
Natarajan also missed the birth of his child as he stayed back in Australia.
On his ODI debut, T Natarajan picked up 2/70 and in 3 T20Is claimed 6 wickets. He ended the series picking up wickets in all debut games he played. Natarajan announced his arrival in style becoming the first Indian to debut in all three formats in the same tour.
Natarajan’s story is a stuff dreams are made of, Sehwag had said. And even after injury setbacks, that story is likely to continue.
As SRH continue to consolidate their position as the team to beat this year, Natarajan is crucial. His ‘cosmic dance’ at the penultimate overs with yorkers will become part of IPL folklore. We cannot wait to see him crush some toes down under.
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