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IPL 2020: The insipring journey of ‘yorker king’ T Natarajan from TN village to SRH

IPL 2020: The insipring journey of ‘yorker king’ T Natarajan from TN village to SRH

Md Imtiaz

Published: 30 Sep 2020 6:39 AM GMT

Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) got their much-needed first win in the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) where they toppled the table-toppers Delhi Capitals (DC) in the 11th match of the league.

SRH put on overall performance, and the inclusion of Kane Williamson surely helped strengthen the batting unit. However, after putting on a decent score of 162, it was the Hyderabad franchise bowlers who made sure to defend the target.

Combined efforts by Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, T Natarajan and even Khaleel Ahmed, they all made sure to curb Delhi's batting line-up and not let them settle much, which earned them 15-run victory. Amid all flares of Rashid and Bhuvi, Thangarasu Natarajan became the cynosure of all eyes. He bowled four overs against a strong Delhi team, giving up just 25 runs and taking 1 wicket. But what amused everyone was his precision with yorkers. The seven yorkers he threw in the match are the most number of yorkers a bowler has thrown in a match in this edition of the IPL. In his third and fourth overs - the 14th and 18th of the Capitals' innings - he bowled ten balls that could either be described as pinpoint yorkers - with a hint of shape into the left-hander as well - or balls too full to get under easily, or low full-tosses hitting the toe-end of the bat. The last of them got him the wicket of Marcus Stoinis, lbw playing across the line.

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Natarajan comes from the small village of Chinnappampatti in Salem district of Tamil Nadu, located approximately 340 kilometres away from Chennai. He belongs to a poor family and has big dreams in his sparkling eyes. In his village, Natarajan has become a household name because of his dedication and commitment towards the game that has taken him this far. He is called "Chella Paiyan" by his villagers.

With his intense love for cricket, Natarajan moved from Chinnappampatti to Chennai in 2011. His father was a saree weaver, while his mother ran a road-side food stall. Being the eldest sibling of the five, life was difficult for Natarajan and his family. Most of the days, they survived with those free mid-day meals that were offered in the schools. Still, cricket kept them all going. Natarajan would start his day early and would play for different villages in tennis-ball 6-over-a-side tournaments, where he was an immediate hit. It was a well-wisher who dragged him outside this game and made ways for him in professional cricket.

He found a spot in the BSNL club, and later in the India Cements team in second-division. His brilliant performances in the second division eased his way into first division cricket in a matter of just two years in 2013. His extraordinary yorker wielding capacity won hearts of many and in 2015, he was part of the Tamil Nadu Ranji trophy team. While everything was taking the ascend like a fairy tale, tragedy struck when his bowling was reported and he spent the rest of 2015, correcting his actions in the Tamil Nadu Cricket Academy.

He worked on his action and came back with a bang next year when he got his biggest breakthrough by playing at the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) in 2016 joining Dindigul Dragons. In a match against Tuti Patriots, he bowled six excellent yorkers, which drew the attention of everyone. In the same year, he was called for trials in Mumbai Indians.

Kings XI Punjab signed him for INR 3 crore during the 2017 IPL auction, and he played six matches for them that season. He was expensive, though, returning an economy rate of 9.07 across six games.

That performance drove down his price at the 2018 auction, where the Sunrisers snapped him up for INR 40 lakh. It's understood that Muttiah Muralitharan, the Sunrisers bowling coach who has also worked in the TNPL, played an influential role in Sunrisers bidding for Natarajan.

He didn't feature in a single game in his first two seasons with the franchise, but he's since added an extra yard of pace, which he showed while helping Tamil Nadu reach the final of the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament. He was Tamil Nadu's designated death bowler through the entire white-ball domestic season, and those performances may have helped him break into the Sunrisers first XI.

Since his joining in IPL, he did many good things with the income he earned. He first met the needs of his family without incurring luxury expenses. He takes care of the education expenses of his siblings. Besides, he also started a cricket academy in his village to train many talented players like himself. About 60 players are currently training at his academy. Many Tamil Nadu players are helping him for this.

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