VVS Laxman Says T Natarajan Can be X-Factor in T20Is for India

Natarajan picked up 16 wickets in the IPL and finished with an economy rate of 8.02.

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Cricket
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Natarajan picked up 16 wickets in the IPL and finished with an economy rate of 8.02
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A fantastic season in the Indian Premier League (IPL) has helped Tamil Nadu fast bowler T Natarajan find a place in the India squad for the T20Is against Australia. One of the abilities of the left armer that impressed the experts was the frequency with which he bowled yorkers at the death.

Natarajan bowled 71 yorkers in IPL 2020, the most in the tournament as per ESPNcricinfo's ball-by-ball data. The second bowler on that list, Kartik Tyagi, only sent down 28.

Overall, Natarajan picked up 16 wickets in the IPL and finished with an economy rate of 8.02, which is impressive considering 131 of the 377 balls he bowled during the tournament came in the death (last four) overs.

Sunrisers Hyderabad’s mentor VVS Laxman feels that the newcomer could be a very useful weapon in the years to come, and especially in the T20 World Cup, which is in India next year.

“With the T20 World Cup scheduled next year, if you look at the Indian team, it requires someone good at the death. It is great to see the likes of Mohammed Shami and Navdeep Saini bowl with such confidence in the death. Natarajan being a left-armer will be the X-factor,” Laxman told Sportstar.

Natarajan dismissed the likes of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers with some pinpoint accuracy and Laxman says that it’s not just the yorkers that make him dangerous.

“Natarajan was always known for those yorkers, even in the TNPL. But, I must say he got a lot of variations which he didn’t use in the IPL. He has a sharp bouncer, slower one, off-cutter and has the wicket taking ability with the new ball,” Laxman explained.

“Essentially, Natarajan has the mindset and the confidence of executing yorkers which we generally believe to be the toughest to deliver. And, he has done consistently and exceedingly well through the IPL, the pick of them being the dismissal of RCB’s AB de Villiers under pressure.”

Natarajan, who did not play a single game in IPL 2019, is among very few who make the jump up to the national team at the age of 29. The previous two pacers who made their international debuts for India after 29 were S Aravind in 2015 and Pankaj Singh in 2014. Before that, one has to go well back to 1994, when Bhupinder Singh Sr made his ODI debut, and then all the way back to 1958, when Ghulam Guard played the first of his two Tests.

"Natarajan is a hard-working cricketer who never missed a training session and is always wanting to work on his skills to be a much better bowler every day," Laxman said. "He has been doing really well in the TNPL, he was part of Kings XI Punjab, he did well consistently for Tamil Nadu in Ranji Trophy.

"He didn't get too many opportunities in SRH (in 2018 and 2019) because of the likes of Siddarth Kaul, Sandeep Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar being the frontline bowlers."

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