From Chinnappampatti to Canberra the story of young sensation – Thangarasu Natarajan

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Hailing from a very poor family in Chinnappampatti, a village which is 36 kms away from the Salem District in Tamil Nadu, Natarajan’s journey was not bed of roses. His father, Mr.Thangarasu worked in a power loom while his mother, Mrs.Shantha ran a small food shop. Natarajan was the eldest of five Children. Natarajan studied in a Government school in Chinnappampatti and has been playing tennis ball cricket ever since he was in fifth grade.

Tough Initial Days

But his cricket career started only when he was 20 years old when he got a chance through his brother’s friend to play IV Division cricket in Chennai in 2011.
In 2014, he was selected to represent Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy, which was also Natarajan’s aim since a long time. He was the first person from Salem to make it to the squad in last 28 years. When everything was going well, he had to face the shock of his life. Natarajan got reported for suspect action in his bowling just after his debut game. His struggle continued for yet another year where he prepared himself to be both mentally and physically fit and worked hard to change his bowling action completely and make a comeback.

T Natarajan talks about his journey
T Natarajan talks about his journey(pic credit~twitter)

Waited Three Years to play his first IPL game

That is when Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) came as a blessing in disguise for him. He was picked by the Dindugal Dragons in the 2016 inaugural edition of TNPL where he performed extraordinarily. That is when he came to the limelight. Just after this, Kings XI Punjab bought him in the 2017 auction for a whooping 3 crores but unfortunately he didn’t get to play a game. His misfortune continued when he had to undergo an surgery in his left elbow eventually missing out the 2017 Ranji Trophy.

In 2018, he moved to the Lyca Kovai Kings in the TNPL and was noticed by many when he defended 14 runs for his team against Karaikudi Kaalais in the Eliminator. His exceptional bowling and the ability to bowl consistent yorkers was commendable.

Meanwhile he was picked by Sunrisers Hyderabad for 40 lakhs in the 2018 auctions but didn’t get to feature even in a single game for two consecutive seasons. Natarajan utilized the time to learn a lot of things from the legend Muttiah Muralidharan who was the bowling coach of SRH and gathered a lot of inputs from senior players like Bhuvneshwar Kumar which helped him in the 2020 edition of IPL where he made his debut in IPL, came as a surprise package and shocked the entire world with his consistent pinpoint yorkers. He bowled maximum number of yorkers in IPL2020, numbers were around 60-70

Natarajan made his IPL debut for srh in IPL2020
Natarajan made his IPL debut for SRH in IPL2020

Natarajan was picked as a net bowler for the Australian tour after he had an exceptional IPL season but God had other plans for him. He got into the T20I squad replacing Varun Chakravarthy who was ruled out because of an injury. Later Natarajan made into the ODI squad as well when Navdeep Saini had injury concerns. He made his ODI debut against Australia in the final ODI and impressed everyone. Just a day later, he made his T20I debut and had impressive figures of 3/30.

Jayaprakash, whom Natarajan fondly calls JP is the person behind him playing cricket and he says that he owes a lot to him. Jayaprakash went on to convince Natarajan’s family to let him play cricket to which his parents agreed though they hardly understand the game. As a tribute to his Godfather and mentor, Natarajan has a tattoo with the initials “JP” on his left wrist. Also, all the jersey that Natarajan has worn so far has the initials “JP” along with his name.

Natarajan and Jayaprakash also went on to start a cricket academy in their village where they give free coaching to the cricket aspirants in that and nearby villages. A few players from the academy have also been selected to play TNPL and one such is Periyasamy who represented Chepauk Super Gillies in 2019 TNPL edition. He bagged a lot of awards after registering his first five-wicket haul and performing exceptionally well.

Being the eldest of five siblings, Natarajan bought a three-bedroom house in 2016 with his earnings and helped his parents marry his younger sister off. He also gave full freedom to his other siblings and let them pursue whatever they wanted to.
Natarajan married his schoolmate, Pavithra with the consent of their parents after being in love with her. The couple was blessed with a baby girl, just last month before the Australian tour.

“My only aim was to play for Tamil Nadu. Set small goals and try to achieve them, the bigger ones will follow. Whichever field it is, work hard and you will reach your ultimate goal” says Natarajan in a video posted by SRH.

Natarajan made his India debut
Natarajan made his India debut

In a short span of three months, Natarajan made his IPL and International debut in both ODI and T20I which is remarkable. He proves that with hard work and never say die attitude, one can definitely get success, someday.

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