SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) medium pacer T Natarajan, who has seen a meteoric rise in last few months, revealed how MS Dhoni’s advice during last year’s IPL helped him improve his craft and become a better bowler. Natarajan, known for his yorkers, managed to dismiss Dhoni in IPL 2020. After the match, Natarajan had a chat with the former India skipper who advised him to focus more on his fitness and use more variations, like slow bouncers and cutters, in his bowling.
“I pitched one in the slot and he hit me for a big six – 102 metres or something. The next ball I got his wicket and didn’t celebrate. I was just thinking about that previous ball. After coming back to the dressing room, though, I was happy. After finishing the match, I also had a chat with him. Speaking to somebody like Dhoni itself is a big thing. He spoke to me about fitness and encouraged me, saying that I will keep getting better with experience. He said, use slow bouncers, cutters, and variations like that. It has been useful for me,” Natarajan told ESPNcricinfo.
As he gears up for fresh season with SRH, Natarajan said that the franchise is like a family and complimented the team management for always backing him during hard times.
“I know I will have to do the job 100 per cent. I will have to focus on not missing my length and have a clear plan for that scenario. If I miss my length, I am aware that I will be taken for runs. I have bowled under pressure in the past, so all of those experiences will help me this season. Bhuvi is back and in form, so he will share his thoughts when I”m under pressure,” said Natarajan.
“Our team has good communication and it’s like a family. Even if I give runs, the team management backs me, so that gives me the confidence that I can come back. I’ve also never played an IPL game at Chepauk. I think Vijay Shankar has played IPL in Chennai, but this will be the first time for me in Chennai. I’ve played a lot of cricket at my home ground, so it will be nice to play in Chennai,” he added.
Based on the performance in IPL 2020, Natarajan was picked as a net bowler for India’s tour of Australia, but went on to make his debut in all three formats after injuries to several players.
“My people and my friends all motivated me so much to reach this place. Coming from a small village to being selected to play for India… they were also very happy. A lot of people now know about my village. More than anything else, I like the India logo on the jersey a lot. I also like the Tamil Nadu logo on the jersey, but after putting on the India jersey, it was a different feeling. I felt like my dream was fulfilled at that moment. I think I would have had bigger celebrations if I was with my people in Chinnappampatti, but I was alone and in quarantine at that time,” said Natarajan.
“It was great to make my Test debut with Washi. He played a superb innings under pressure and he played well in both innings to help us win the match. The experienced bowlers were injured and most of us were youngsters. The Gabba has a history and I’ve heard that it can be a challenging wicket against Australia. In the end, we felt like we had won a World Cup,” he added.
IPL 2021 will commence on April 9 with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Mumbai Indians facing off in the tournament opener. SRH will play their first game against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on April 11 in Chennai.
Topics mentioned in this article