Chennai: Thangarasu Natarajan, the death bowling specialist, is rattling the best of batsmen with his yorkers, ball after ball, this IPL. His is an incredible story of grit and perseverance, coming from a background of little means.
First picked up by Kings XI Punjab for Rs 3 crore in 2017, Natarajan took three years to find his feet on the big stage, after proving expensive in the six games that he had played earlier.
In 2018, he was picked up by Sunrisers Hyderabad but he got to play his first game for the team only this season. In SRH’s win over Delhi Capitals on Tuesday, Natarajan made a significant impact by hurling a series of yorkers in the 14th and 18th over of the innings.
His spell of 4-0-21-1 included the prize wicket of Australian big-hitter Marcus Stoinis.
Early in his career, Natarajan faced flak over his bowling action. He battled a bad shoulder as well and worked his way up after a period of struggle.
Avinash Khandelwal, fielding coach of the Tamil Nadu team, said Natarajan has always been known to possess a superb yorker in the state’s cricket circles.
“Yeah, Nattu works on his yorkers a lot,” the Coimbatore-based Khandelwal said. “To bowl yorkers is not easy and to execute it under pressure is another thing. That is because he works on it. He does it regularly in events like TNPL and is now showing he can do it at the highest level.”
Son of a daily-wage labourer, Natarajan, being the good son that he is, constructed a house for them, ensured sure his sisters receive a proper education, and also opened an academy in his Chinnappampatti village in Tamil Nadu’s Salem district, with his earnings from cricket.
The academy provides youngsters the facilities to train and practise — something he did not have access to while growing up.
Speaking about Natarajan’s cricket academy, Khandelwal said, “He is an amazing guy. He has come up the hard way and never forgets his roots. He is still the same person for his friends in the village and he is helping young cricketers there. Most of them train for free.”
Natarajan even managed to convince a teammate not to give up the game, his mentor Jayaprakash said.
The 29-year old is helping out many people who used to play with him, among them G Periyaswamy, who rose to prominence in last year’s Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL).
“Natarajan continues to help a lot of young cricketers and those who played tennis-ball cricket with him,” Jayaprakash said. “He made sure that Periyaswamy, who had given up hope of playing the game, came back by convincing his family that there was a future for him in cricket.”
The only thing Natarajan could not do is convince his mother to give up selling chicken on the roadside. She won’t give it up, Jayaprakash said, as it helped the family survive tough times....