Impressed by newcomer T Natarajan’s ability to deliver under pressure, India captain Virat Kohli on Tuesday said the seamer could be a great asset for the team heading into next year’s T20 World Cup.
The 29-year-old from Tamil Nadu has been sensational since making his international debut in the third ODI at Canberra, snapping eight wickets in four matches.
“Special mention for Natarajan, in the absence of (Mohammed) Shami and Jasprit (Bumrah), he stood out and really delivered under pressure,” Kohli said at the post-match press conference.
“It is outstanding because he is playing his first few games at international level. He looks very composed, he is a humble and hard working guy, he is sure of what he is doing.”
India is scheduled to host the T20 World Cup in October and November next year.
“I hope he continues to keep working hard on his game and gets better because a left- arm bowler is an asset for any team and if he can keep bowling in this way consistently, it will be a great thing for us heading into the World Cup next year,” Kohli said.
India lost the third T20I by 12 runs but claimed the series 2-1, and Kohli said he was impressed with the way the team never gave up despite missing experienced players such as Rohit Sharma, Bumrah and Shami.
“We played good cricket over last 11-12 T20s, the fact that this squad had players that don’t have much exposure in international cricket, from that point of view it was a nice performance especially after losing first two ODIs. We came back nicely and showed belief.”
“We carried the momentum, fighting back again in the first T20s and even tonight game was close, so the standout is that guys are not giving up.”
India is next playing the much-anticipated four-Test series against Australia from December 17 and Kohli said he is in a “good headspace” heading into the opening Day-Night game in Adelaide.
“Tonight I felt particularly good, I am in right headspace, it was scratchy to begin with in first ODI, I worked on few aspects of my game, purely trying to get into best head space, not much about technique.
“I think when I get into good headspace, I can switch to formats and adjust to conditions,” he said.
“I feel very balanced and good going into the Test series, it is about continuing to be in that headspace and making sure I contribute enough to the team success and hopefully we will start on the right note in the Test series.”
Pandya for Tests?
When asked if he would be tempted to keep Hardik Pandya back as a pure batting option for the upcoming four-Test series, Kohli answered in the negative.
“Hardik couldn’t bowl and we knew he will not be able to bowl but we saw in the IPL the headspace that he has been. But Test cricket is a different challenge and we need him to bowl,” Kohli said.
“We have spoken about it. He is one guy who brings in a lot of balance for us in overseas conditions like South Africa, England. We were able to compete for longer periods of time and he adds a lot of balance in terms of his bowling.”
But according to him, even Pandya realises that he needs to get back to peak bowling form.
“He himself wants to get back into the bowling space and make sure he is available in Tests because it becomes way more important for five days, that little bit extra.
“He understands that he has to come back the fittest he is able to,” he added.
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