The last few months were nothing short of spectacular for the new kid on the block Thangarasu Natarajan. The left-arm pacer, who was unable to force his way into the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) playing eleven until the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020, remarkably managed to reach dizzying heights at both domestic and international level.
Following phenomenal performances for SRH in IPL 2020 in the UAE - where he scalped 16 wickets - Salem-based Natarajan deservedly boarded the India flight as a net bowler for tour Down Under. But, his hard work behind the scenes paid dividends as the 29-year-old made his international debut in each of the three formats during the overseas assignment.
Irrespective of the colour of the ball, Natarajan - the latest entrant in the ‘Men in Blue’ army - made a seamless transition to the highest level. His narrative in Australia couldn’t have had a better ending as the fast bowler turned out in India whites for the first time in Brisbane, where the visitor scripted history.
Upon his return to his home town on Thursday, Natarajan, who put the Chinnappampatti village on the cricketing map, was given a hero’s welcome, with the entire community celebrating the feat of ‘one of their very own’. Once the dream ride eventually sunk in, the toast of the town addressed the media at a presser in Salem on Sunday.
“I am extremely happy. I can’t express the feeling in words. The Australia tour was a boon to my career. In my opinion, playing for India in itself is a great achievement. I just focussed on my job and everything that happened in the last couple of months was like a dream,” said Natarajan, who was accompanied by TNCA secretary RS Ramasaamy.
“My teammates and coaches supported me a lot. They were friendly right from the first day.
They didn’t consider me as a newcomer to the team. They motivated and encouraged me throughout the series. Hence, I was able to deliver good performances,” he added.
Latest sensation Natarajan was handed his India cap in the third and final ODI - a dead rubber - in Canberra in December 2020. Despite being a little expensive on the day, the pacer impressed everyone by picking up two wickets.
While talking about his first outing in national colours, Natarajan said: “All of a sudden, I was told that I would make my international debut in the ODI series. I was under pressure to perform and had a little bit of fear. But, I was keen on making the most of the opportunity.” Post the T20 and Test series triumphs, which India won by the same margin of 2-1, Natarajan was asked to lift the trophies in the team photograph. The Tamil Nadu player stated that he was moved by the gesture of India skipper Virat Kohli and stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane.
“On the pitch, both of them handled me well. After the presentation ceremonies, I never expected the captains to hand over the trophies to me. Actually, I was standing in a corner when Kohli received the T20 trophy. I had tears and it was a different feeling altogether.”
- T Natarajan is the first Indian to make his international debut in all three formats in the same tour
- The left-arm pacer was initially named only as a net bowler for the tour Down Under
- The 29-year-old was handed Test cap No.300 in Brisbane as India suffered a host of injuries
TNCA office-bearer all praise for Nattu
Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) secretary RS Ramasaamy heaped praise on Thangarasu Natarajan, whom he has followed for nearly a decade. “Natarajan is a very down to earth and hardworking guy. I first saw him about nine years ago and he is still the same.
There is not much change in his attitude. I am absolutely proud of him. This is something special for the district of Salem,” Ramasaamy told DT Next.