Left-arm fast bowler T Natarajan, who came out with an impressive performance during his maiden outing with Team India in the limited-overs series against Australia, believes “last few months have been surreal” for him.
On his first international tour, the left-arm pacer stepped up with his yorkers and slower variations, and in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, helped India to a 2-1 T20I series win against Australia as he picked up six wickets in the three matches at an economy of just under seven.
Natarajan made an impact on his ODI debut as well, picking the wickets of Marnus Labuchange and Ashton Agar in another match-winning spell in the third game of the series at the Manuka Oval.
“The last few months have been surreal. My maiden outing with Team India and we won the T20I series. A dream come true moment made special by the champion bunch,” Natarajan said in a tweet on Wednesday.
“I thank my teammates for their constant support and encouragement. Thank you everyone for your love and support,” he added.
Natarajan had first impressed the cricket fraternity with his yorkers during the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) played in the United Arab Emirates. Playing for SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH), he picked 16 wickets in 16 matches and courtesy that he earned an India call-up.
The 29-year-old, however, wasn’t supposed to be in India’s T20I squad. He was originally picked as a net bowler, but an injury to spinner Varun Chakravarthy opened up an opportunity and that’s how Natarajan was added to the squad, an opportunity he seized with both hands.
The T20I leg of the tour, which ended on Tuesday, however saw Natarajan posing with both the series trophy and the Player-of-the-Series trophy, which Hardik Pandya had handed over to him, in the team photo.
“Natarajan, you were outstanding this series. To perform brilliantly in difficult conditions on your India debut speaks volumes of your talent and hard work. You deserve Man of the Series from my side bhai! Congratulations to Team India on the win,” Pandya tweeted after Tuesday’s game which India lost by 12 runs at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Team India skipper Virat Kohli also praised Natarajan’s work ethic and revealed that he could be a handy asset heading into the T20 World Cup to be played at home next year.
“Special mention to Natarajan — because in the absence of Shami and Bumrah he has been the guy who has stood up and really delivered under pressure. Outstanding for the fact that he is playing the first few games at the international level, looks very composed, he is very sure of what he wants to do,” said Kohli while speaking to reporters after the match.
“Natarajan is a very hard-working guy, a humble guy and you feel happy for the guys working hard for results and making the team win. I wish him all the best. Hope he continues to work hard on his game and keep getting better because a left-arm bowler is always an asset for any team. And if he can bowl that well and consistently, it will be a great thing for us heading into World Cup next year,” he said.