Sunrisers Hyderabad mentor VVS Laxman hailed fast bowler Thangarasu Natarajan and his rapid rise in world cricket after the IPL 2020 where he caught everybody’s attention with his accuracy and ability to bowl yorkers at will.

Natarajan played his debut season for SRH last year in place of the injured Bhuvneshwar Kumar, bagging 16 wickets from as many games at an average of 31.50.

The 29-year-old’s performances in the tournament earned him a seat on the flight to Australia as a net bowler but as it turns out, Natarajan became the first India player to make his international debut across all three formats during the same tour.

Natarajan ended the tour as the highest wicket taker in the T20Is with 6 scalps while he bagged 2 in the third ODI and 3 in the only Test he played against Australia.

He got a rousing reception in his hometown of Salem in Kerala after returning from Australia, images and videos of which went viral on social media and Laxman says Natarajan deserves every bit of the adulation that he’s getting from the masses and cricket pundits.

“Good things happen to good people. I feel Natarajan deserves every bit of it. For us, Nattu waited initially because he didn’t get an opportunity to play for Sunrisers whereas the start of the camp in Dubai because of the lockdown, we had a 2 weeks camp. Right from that first day in that camp, he was in excellent rhythm which means even during the lockdown, he was working on his fitnesa and even his bowling. He looked in fantastic rhythm while some of the other bowlers were not. And then he got to play for us right from the first match.

“What impressed me the most, which is very important if you have to perform at the highest level is the mental strength and the fortitude which is required. He displayed. Once Bhuvi left us because of an injury, he bowled the tough overs for us and once you do that you’re ready and prepared and he got the self belief. Because of that, I felt he got the opportunities, even though he went there as net bowler, he got the opportunities to play the ODI, then the T20Is and the Test match. He was ready for that,” Laxman told Boria Majumdar on Sports Today.

Natarajan travelled straight from the IPL 2020 in UAE to Australia like the rest of the Indian players which meant that he missed the birth of his first daughter due to national duty. The massive sacrifice of missing the birth of his child was recognised by every fan and cricket expert who saw him play in Australia and Laxman was no different.

“Also, not going back home when his daughter was born and continuing to give everything so that his dream… I still remember the conversation I had when he was selected as net bowler. He was so excited as if he was going to represent India. He just wanted to be part of that Indian set-up. He wanted to be part of the set-up where he got an opportunity to bowl to the likes of Virat Kohli and all the greats of Indian cricket. He was so excited. I didn’t meet him, I spoke to him but I can imagine how proud he must have been.

“Fantastic work ethic and again that is something I am so proud of because he sat on the bench. He didn’t get an opportunity to play for us but not one he showed the disappointment. Everyday he would be the first guy to go the gym, he would bowled his overs in the net sessions and the match simulations. He would do a lot of conditioning where he takes enough catches. He never compromises on his preparations.

“That’s why god has been very kind. I always feel that players who are committed to the game will get their rewards. And the rewards have come in such a fantastic time for him and he truly deserves it,” Laxman said.



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