After the likes of Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra and Irfan Pathan, many came, made fleeting appearances but failed to make a lasting impact. The likes of Barinder Sran, Jaydev Unadkat, and Khaleel Ahmed are the latest examples who couldn’t be part of Team India’s ‘left-arm armoury’.
The latest on the list who seems to be an exciting prospect is T Natarajan.
Making his international debut during the third ODI against Australia at the Manuka Oval, Natarajan bowled 10 overs and claimed two wickets, conceding 70 runs. He dismissed Marnus Labuschagne for 7 runs and then removed Ashton Agar (28) as his second scalp.
Though 70 in 10 overs are somewhat expensive figures, the courage displayed by the 29 year old from Tamil Nadu in what were extreme pressure situations was praise-worthy. He came back strong to bowl very well in the death overs and finished strong. There’s no doubt that Natarajan is a talent that the team management will look to nurture going ahead. Remember he is also in the T20 squad and is likely to feature in the playing XI in the three match series which begins on Friday. In this season’s IPL, Natarajan finished as the second highest wicket taker for the Sunrisers Hyderabad behind Rashid Khan, with 16 wickets.
Former India left arm bowling all-rounder Karsan Ghavri feels that Natarajan is an apt find for Team India in their long search for a left-arm pacer. Ghavri also called Natarajan a bright prospect for Kohli’s team.
“Natarajan is looking like a bright prospect for the Indian team. He is very talented. If he keeps on bowling well and keeps up his fitness levels, he can serve Indian cricket for a long time. He is a bright prospect for the Indian team. He has the ability to generate a good amount of pace. He has got some variations. The best part is that he has the ability to bowl yorkers, especially in the death overs. He has all the qualities a left-arm pacer needs,” Ghavri told Timesofindia.com in an exclusive interview.
“I know he (Natarajan) gave away a lot of runs but he has taken wickets too. He bowled yorkers in the death. That controlled the flow of runs. He looked good to me in his debut match. I am sure he will go a long way,” Ghavri further said.
Natarajan was handed his ODI debut cap by India captain Virat Kohli ahead of the third ODI in Canberra. Natarajan, after dismissing Labuschagne, looked up at the sky and celebrated his maiden international wicket.
On the back of an impressive Indian Premier League outing, the Tamil Nadu-born Natarajan was selected in the India squad for the limited-over series Down Under. Natarjan initially flew to Australia as one of four net bowlers. He was subsequently added to the T20I squad when Varun Chakravarthy had to be pulled out due to an injury. He then made the ODI squad cut when Navdeep Saini complained of back spasms.
“The way Zaheer did under Ganguly’s captaincy, Natarajan can do well under Kohli’s captaincy. Kohli is a good leader and I am sure he will motivate this guy (Natarajan) and make him learn. As he progresses in his career and if plays with consistent performance, he is going to serve the Indian team for a long time. He is a sparkling prospect for India,” Ghavri, who played 39 Tests and 19 ODIs for India between 1975 and 1981, told TimesofIndia.com.
AGE IS ‘JUST A NUMBER’
Natarajan made his international debut at the age of 29. That for many people is a tad bit too late.
Ghavri though subscribes to the school of thought that age is just a number in cricket.
“Age hasn’t got anything to do with cricket as long as somebody is really fit enough to deliver the goods,” Ghavri said.
“Even though he is 29, (if) he goes on to play for India for another 6 or 7 years, that means he is doing a good job. He should be fit and perform for the team, that’s all,” the former left-arm pacer said.
GHAVRI’S ADVICE FOR NATARAJAN
Ghavri, who knows what it takes to be an effective left arm medium pacer on the international stage, watched Natarajan bowl closely in the third ODI vs Australia on Wednesday. The veteran pacer was impressed with the way Natarajan bowled in his maiden outing against the Yellow Brigade.
Lauding Natarajan, the former pacer said: “I will just advise him to keep his fitness level high. If he manages to do so, he can serve the Indian team for long. He can fill the left-arm pacer void in the Indian team”.
“Khali gym jaake body banana jaruri nahi hai” (Going to the gym and working out isn’t enough). Cricket related exercise is very important. If he is a fast bowler, he should be bowling at the nets for at least an hour and a half. The more he will bowl at the nets, the more he will improve. He should bowl at least 15 to 20 overs in a day. That’s how you prepare yourself. You are playing for your country, not domestic cricket,” Ghavri signed off.