Former India captain Kapil Dev has revealed that fast bowler T Natarajan was his ‘hero’ from the IPL 2020. In conversation with senior sports writer and journalist Ayaz Memon on Day 2 of the 18th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, Kapil said he was highly impressed with the 29-year-old fast bowler from Tamil Nadu for sticking to the basics of bowling accurate yorkers in an ever-changing dynamic that is fast bowling.
“Natarajan was my hero of the IPL. Young boy was fearless and bowled so many yorkers. The yorker is the best ball, not only today but even in the last 100 years,” Kapil said.
Natarajan emerged as one of the finds of the recently-concluded IPL, his tally of 16 wickets proving instrumental in SRH’s road to the playoffs for the third straight year. Natarajan picked up important wickets throughout the tournament, such as that of Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli and his teammate AB de Villiers. The left-arm quick was rewarded with a maiden India call-up when his name was included in the T20I squad for the series against Australia.
That Natarajan could pursue cricket is itself a story of great grit and determination. His father was a porter at the railway station, his mother was a daily wage labourer. But none of that stopped Natarajan from making his mark in the local cricket circles, and then moving a step up the ladder to the lower divisions in Chennai cricket. Then he had to overcome an injury and work on his bowling after it was pointed out to him that his action may be suspect.
Then he made it to the Tamil Nadu Premier League, which is where he was spotted by Kings XI scouts. He got picked for Rs 3 crore by the Punjab team in the 2017 auction. He did not do well enough for them to keep him in 2018, which is when he moved to SRH. Though he had to wait a long while to get another chance, Natarajan had kept himself busy paying it forward.