Medium-pace bowler of SunRisers Hyderabad, T Natarajan, who rose to fame in the last few months, has revealed how former India captain MS Dhoni helped him to improve his craft during last year’s IPL in the UAE. Natarajan, who is known for his deadly yorkers, managed to remove Dhoni in IPL 2020. After the match, Natarajan had a chat with Dhoni who advised him to focus more on his fitness and use more variations, like slow bouncers and cutters, in his bowling which will help him in future.
“I pitched one in the slot and he hit me for a big six – 102 metres or something. The next ball I got his wicket and didn’t celebrate. I was just thinking about that previous ball. After coming back to the dressing room, though, I was happy. After finishing the match, I also had a chat with him. Speaking to somebody like Dhoni itself is a big thing. He spoke to me about fitness and encouraged me, saying that I will keep getting better with experience. He said, use slow bouncers, cutters, and variations like that. It has been useful for me,” Natarajan said to ESPNcricinfo.
The 14th edition of the Indian Premier League will begin on April 9. As the pacer is preparing for a fresh season with SRH, he said that the franchise is like a family and thanked the team management for always supporting him during his hard times.
“I know I will have to do the job 100 per cent. I will have to focus on not missing my length and have a clear plan for that scenario. If I miss my length, I am aware that I will be taken for runs. I have bowled under pressure in the past, so all of those experiences will help me this season. Bhuvi is back and in form, so he will share his thoughts when I’m under pressure,” said Natarajan.
“Our team has good communication and it’s like a family. Even if I give runs, the team management backs me, so that gives me the confidence that I can come back. I’ve also never played an IPL game at Chepauk. I think Vijay Shankar has played IPL in Chennai, but this will be the first time for me in Chennai. I’ve played a lot of cricket at my home ground, so it will be nice to play in Chennai,” he further added.
After a stunning IPL 2020 with SRH, Natarajan was picked as a net bowler for India’s tour to Australia last year, but later he went on to make his debut across formats after the visitors hit by injuries.
“More than anything else, I like the India logo on the jersey a lot. I also like the Tamil Nadu logo on the jersey, but after putting on the India jersey, it was a different feeling. I felt like my dream was fulfilled at that moment. I think I would have had bigger celebrations if I was with my people in Chinnappampatti, but I was alone and in quarantine at that time,” said Natarajan.
SRH will play their first match against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on April 11 in Chennai.