Thangarasu Natarajan's late call-up to the India ODI squad that will face Australia at the SCG on November 27, 2020, is a testament to the brilliant yorker bowler that he is.
T Natarajan would have never been in contention for India's limited-overs sides if not for his yorkers. In the recently-concluded Indian T20 League in UAE, Natarajan had bowled the most number of yorkers and got the most number of wickets with it. He even ended up bowling, arguably, the ball of the tournament as well when his searing yorker whooshed past AB de Villiers to hit the stumps.
But, T Natarajan isn’t a one-season wonder and his journey didn’t begin in UAE last month. It was on a hot September night at Tirunelveli in the Tamil Nadu Premier League in 2016, when Natarajan had first turned heads of the IPL scouts with his uncanny ability to nail the yorkers.
In a game between Dindigul Dragons and Tuticorin Patriots, Natarajan's side - the Dindigul Dragons - tied the game off the last ball of the over to trigger a Super Over. Batting first, his side made 12 and left 13 runs for the Patriots to win off six balls.
Natarajan, the left-arm pacer, strolled in against Washington Sundar (an acclaimed hitter in the league at the top of the order), Subramanian Anand and veteran Tamil Nadu batter Abhinav Mukund. At the end of the sixth ball, Natarajan had dismissed Anand, conceded just three singles and a double. He had bowled six yorkers that night - the six balls that possibly changed his career.
The Punjab franchise was quick to rope him in for the 2017 Indian T20 League edition before Hyderabad acquired him for a lesser fee in 2018. Though Natarajan played more matches for Hyderabad, he wasn't a starter at the beginning of the season in 2020.
However, unlike most people in the world, 2020 proved to be massive for Natarajan. He was a hit in the 2020 edition of the league for Hyderabad with his pinpoint accurate yorkers. His ability to contain batsmen with smart thinking and stunning accuracy grabbed headlines.
In a game against Delhi, Natarajan had bowled as many as 10 accurate yorkers in his last two overs to hand his side a win. And once famed T20 hitters struggled to hit his yorkers in the air, things started to change for T Natarajan.
He was called up as a reserve seamer to the Indian T20 squad to travel to Australia. Later, an injury to Varun Chakravarthy meant that he was drafted into the T20I squad itself. Hours before the first ODI against Australia at Sydney, Natarajan is now with a chance to make a national debut in a format he has never played in.
With Navdeep Saini complaining of a stiff back, Natarajan was called up to the ODI squad with the BCCI making a pretty late announcement of the same, arguably because Natarajan is due to debut on Friday. Either way, it's been one hell of a rollercoaster ride for the Tamil Nadu seamer.
From being on the sidelines in the franchise to being their strike pace bowler in a season to making it as a reserve T20 bowler, a T20I squad member, and now an ODI squad member, all in the space of two months. However, nothing happens overnight.