T. Natarajan: From obscurity to limelight

T. Natarajan's is a remarkable tale, from the dusty lanes of Chinnappampatti, a hamlet near Salem, to the gilded highway of the Indian Premier League, from breaching defences with tennis ball to shattering stumps with the hard leather sphere, from obscurity to making headlines.

"The first thing I want to do with the money is to build a nice house for my parents. They have worked all their lives. I do not want them to work anymore."   -  PTI

For Thangarasu Natarajan, the events of the last few years could appear bizzare. Even as he followed the IPL auction on television here on Monday, the left-arm paceman had to pinch himself to believe all that was happening before him.

His is a remarkable tale, from the dusty lanes of Chinnappampatti, a hamlet near Salem, to the gilded highway of the Indian Premier League, from breaching defences with tennis ball to shattering stumps with the hard leather sphere, from obscurity to making headlines.

There was a period when Rs 30 was hard to come by, now he is among the top domestic picks in the IPL, snapped up by Kings XI Punjab for Rs. 3 crore.

"The first thing I want to do with the money is to build a nice house for my parents. They have worked all their lives. I do not want them to work anymore," the 25-year-old Natarajan told Sportstar.

Thangarasu, his father, a daily wager in a saree manufacturing factory, is struggling with his work these days because of failing eyesight. And his mother, Shantha, sells snacks on the highway, a demanding job with meagre returns.

Natarajan said, "Now, I want them to stay at home, enjoy life. One of my sisters is married. I have two more sisters and I want them to pursue education before they get married. My younger brother is in college. I have to take care of my family."

The lively left-arm paceman with a mean yorker admitted being tense while watching the auction alone in his Chemplast guest house room. "There was silence for a while after my name came up and I thought this was it. I couldn't bear to watch. Then the bidding started and I was relieved. Then there was a pause at Rs. 95 lakh before it picked up again!"

He said, "The news of my auction is trending in Salem and my village and there are celebrations there. My close friend called me from home, my parents too came to know about it though I suspect my mother would not have understood the auction!"

Life, indeed, has turned a full circle for Natarajan. "Not long ago, I was down and out. I was out of cricket because they found a problem with my bowling action. I did not know what the future held for me."

Natarajan got his action fixed and swung games around with his speed and the ability to send down yorkers at will in the Tamil Nadu Premier League. "I want to thank the TNPL and the TNCA for providing me a platform."

The seamer added, "Bowling yorkers is something that came naturally to me while playing tennis ball cricket. I used to bowl my yorkers slightly wide with the tennis ball because the batsmen would take a swipe at the straighter deliveries. The yorkers outside off-stump worked for me in TNPL too since they are hard to score off."

Significantly, Natarajan impressed for Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy combining well with Aswin Crist and K. Vignesh.

And now IPL beckons for Natarajan. What a story!