CHENNAI: In late 2020, T Natarajan went to Australia as a net bowler with the Indian contingent, but came back as an India international, making his debut in all three formats and also playing a vital role in the historic win over Australia at Brisbane. However, the fairytale journey hasn’t been the same as he has been riddled with injuries since.
A troublesome knee had rendered him unfit for the better part of last year. Although he played in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy final in Nov 2021 which Tamil Nadu won, he was not the same bowler as his knee kept giving away. After proper rest, medical care, systematic training and fitness schedule, Natarajan is back to bowling his normal self as he is sweating it out at the M.A Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, preparing for the Ranji season and the IPL.
“I am feeling fit and raring to go. My knee problem is a thing of the past. I have understood my body well and I am training hard to be in shape for the Ranji trophy and the IPL,'' said Natarajan.
Any layoff from the game for a while puts players on the back foot, especially for medium pacers as they might lose their rhythm. One needs to put extra yards on the field and once again start hitting the deck on the right areas. The process is very tiresome and painful for many.
“I am bowling at a good rhythm. I enjoy training and understand the process associated with injury rehab much better now. I am hitting the nets at Chepauk, bowling at a lively pace. The follow through, loading and delivery stride is much better than what was in the past. I am enjoying my bowling, which is what is important,'' said the player from Salem.
“I am not worried at the pace I am bowling nor calculating whether I am touching 150k regularly. My aim is to improve control, bowl in the right areas and swing the ball both ways. Once I start playing matches regularly, the pace will automatically go up as I know how to adapt to the situation,'' added the 30-year old.
With the Ranji Trophy first phase to be held mostly before the IPL, Natarajan's presence will add variety to the Tamil Nadu attack. Natarajan along with Sandeep Warrier could become a potent opening pair for Tamil Nadu.
“A fit Natarajan is a big asset to the team. He has the talent, potential to use the new ball at the optimum level to trouble the best in the business. The only concern is his fitness. If he takes care of his body well, then he will be a potent force as the angles he bowls and bounce that he extracts will be difficult to pick for many a batsman. The Ranji Trophy will help him get back his mojo,'' said M Venkataramana, Tamil Nadu head coach.
With the IPL auctions round the corner every player who is in the auction pool is eagerly waiting to be picked by a franchise for a good price. Natarajan who has been with the Hyderabad team in the past is keen to do well in the IPL this season and use it as a vehicle to get back into the Indian team.
“I was with Hyderabad and enjoyed my stint there. I am not nervous about the coming auction where there are two more teams in the IPL. I just want to play for a good side, perform well and use my IPL performances to get back into the Indian team once again,'' said an optimistic Natarajan.