SRH fast bowler Natarajan reveals 'useful' advice Dhoni gave him in IPL 2020
India fast bowler T. Natarajan has revealed what advice MS Dhoni gave him during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 that has proved to be “useful” for him.
India fast bowler T. Natarajan has revealed what advice MS Dhoni gave him during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 that has proved to be "useful" for him.
Natarajan, who plays for Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), emerged as one of the stars last season in the IPL, having picked up 16 wickets in as many matches. It was his just second year in the IPL. In 2017, he was the highest-paid uncapped Indian player, picked up by Kings XI Punjab (now Punjab Kings). However, he made just six appearances for Punjab that season and he never played again in the league until 2020.
While Afghan spinner Rashid Khan bagged most wickets for SRH in IPL 2020 – 20 scalps, Natarajan was second on the list with 16 wickets. Among the dismissals he made in the 13th edition of the tournament, which was played in the UAE due to the pandemic, Natarajan dismissed Chennai Super Kings (CSK) skipper Dhoni.
Natarajan got Dhoni's precious scalp during SRH and CSK's second meeting in the IPL 2020. He dismissed the former Indian captain in the penultimate over of the first innings, who was caught by Kane Williamson at extra-cover. It was a special wicket for Natarajan, who had earlier told Ravichandran Ashwin in a chat that he wanted to bag Dhoni's wicket.
In a recent interview with ESPNCricinfo, Natarajan recollected Dhoni' wicket and the conversation between the two after the match, which CSK won by 20 runs.
"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," said Natarajan.
Thanks to his impressive performances for SRH in the IPL 2020, Natarajan was picked for India's tour of Australia. Instead of returning home for the birth of his daughter, Tamil Nadu's Natarajan flew with the Indian cricket team to Australia for a full-fledged series. He made his India debut in the three-match One-Day International (ODI), where he picked two wickets. While he played just one ODI, he was selected for all the three Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is). While India won the three-match T20I series 201, Natarajan finished with six scalps.
Due to a number of injuries in the Indian camp, Natarajan ended up making his Test debut as well on the tour. He played the memorable Brisbane Test, which Team India closely won by three wickets. Natarajan picked another three wickets in the whites. With the victory at the Gabba, the Indian team also sealed their second consecutive Test series win Down Under.
Overall, in seven international games, across formats, Natarajan now has 13 wickets to his name. In the two IPL seasons, he has been a part of, Natarajan has 18 wickets in 22 appearances so far.