India vs Australia: Natarajan the X-factor for Team India, says Laxman

Former India batsman and Sunrisers Hyderabad mentor Laxman says Natarajan did not miss a single practice session in the IPL and is always keen on improving.

Left-arm pacer T. Natarajan at a Team India gym session in Australia.   -  TWITTER/BCCI

V.V.S. Laxman’s advice for left-arm pacer T. Natarajan, who earned a call-up for the T20I series against Australia, is pretty simple — take care of your body, workload and bowl the same way you did in the Tamil Nadu Premier League.

Natarajan, under the mentorship of Laxman in Sunrisers Hyderabad, claimed 16 wickets in the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League. The former India batsman is impressed with his hard work and execution.

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“Natarajan is a hard working cricketer who never missed a training session and is always wanting to work on his skills to be a much better bowler every day. He has been doing really well in the TNPL, he was part of Kings XI Punjab, he did well consistently for Tamil Nadu in Ranji Trophy. He didn’t get too many opportunities in SRH because of the likes of Siddharth Kaul, Sandeep Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar being the frontline bowlers,” Laxman told Sportstar.

“He has been doing well right from the practice matches before the IPL began in the UAE. The kind of confidence level he showed right from the start was amazing,” Laxman said.

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“That is the reason why we gave him the chance ahead of Khaleel Ahmed and once Bhuvi was ruled out with an injury, he became an important cog in the attack,” he added.

“Natarajan was always known for those yorkers - even in the TNPL. But, I must say he got a lot of variations which he didn’t use in the IPL. He has a sharp bouncer, slower one, off-cutter and has the wicket taking ability with the new ball,” Laxman explained.

“Essentially, Natarajan has the mindset and the confidence of executing yorkers which we generally believe to be the toughest to deliver. And, he has done consistently and exceedingly well through the IPL, the pick of them being the dismissal of RCB’s AB de Villiers under pressure.”

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Laxman is not surprised by his selection for the tour of Australia, where he was originally picked as a net bowler. “With the T20 World Cup scheduled next year - if you look at the Indian team, it requires someone good at the death. It is great to see the likes of Mohammed Shami and Navdeep Saini bowl with such confidence in the death. Natarajan being a left-armer will be the X-factor,” said Laxman.

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