T. Natarajan enjoys IPL experience in maiden season

From picking up a new language to understanding the different approaches of the game, the left-arm fast bowler is learning every day.

T. Natarajan... “I can learn new things as I gain experience.”   -  Shaun Roy/IPL/Sportzpics


Thangarasu Natarajan had to sort out his bowling action and overcome self-doubts to land a lucrative Indian Premier League deal and the left-arm fast bowler is now enjoying his maiden season with Kings XI Punjab.

From picking up a new language to understanding the different approaches of the game, Natarajan is learning from his experiences in the IPL. “Initially, I felt a little pressure as it was first season at this level. After the first match, I felt normal. The team members ensured that I was relaxed,” Natarajan told PTI.

The 25-year-old Tamil Nadu paceman bagged a Rs. 3 crore IPL contract with Kings XI Punjab after an impressive domestic season. For Natarajan, it was a struggle to realise his cricket dreams as his father worked as a labourer in a textile unit and mother ran a roadside stall selling fried chicken.

When he joined his IPL team, communication with fellow players was a problem. “It improved in course of time. I can understand English though I am not fluent in the language to respond,” Natarajan said. “I’m trying to learn Hindi now,” he added.

The Kings XI dressing room was a relaxed and friendly one, he said, and it helped him and the others give their best on the field. Asked what skills he has learnt since joining the IPL team, the left-arm paceman said, “I am doing what I know best. I need to give my best now, I can learn new things as I gain experience.”

Asked if there was any change in the manner in which he prepared for matches, Natarajan said, “Not really. However, the foreign players have a different approach to games and I have been taking note of that.”

Natarajan came to the fore during the inaugural Tamil Nadu Premier League last year. His ability to deliver yorkers for Dindigul Dragons in the slog overs evoked comparisons with Bangladesh bowler Mustafizur Rahman. However, Natarajan downplays such talk, saying: “There is a long way to go.”

Natarajan praised his IPL team captain Glenn Maxwell, who he marked out as the toughest to bowl to, and mentor Virender Sehwag, a “great motivator”. Maxwell, he said, was ready to give the fields he asked for and asked him to stick to his strengths.

Impressive rise

Hailing from Chinnappampatti, Natarajan was playing tennis ball cricket in 2011 before moving to Chennai to play lower-division cricket. He impressed with his pace and variations and moved up the ladder. Four years later, in 2015, Natarajan made his Ranji Trophy debut against Bengal at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. His action came under scrutiny and the whole world seem to have come crashing.

However, the young man wasn’t disheartened and under the watchful eyes of Sunil Subramanian, D. Vasu and others, underwent the correction process. The long way back saw him shine in Chennai’s competitive league and subsequently the TNPL. He also performed well for Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy South Zone T20, which put him in line to earn a call-up during the IPL auction.

Interestingly, the team has won each time he has been in the Playing XI. Natarajan is a huge fan of retired Australian paceman Mitchell Johnson, now part of the Mumbai Indians. He managed to meet his idol and click a picture with him and also received a few bowling tips from the Australian.

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