Kohli earmarks ‘outstanding’ Natarajan for T20 World Cup

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India captain Virat Kohli is impressed with how well T Natarajan has coped with the pressure in Australia on his first international tour and says the left-arm seamer could be a real weapon at next year’s Twenty20 World Cup on home soil.

India’s Thangarasu Natarajan in action during the Second Twenty20 International match between Australia and India, at Sydney Cricket Ground, in Sydney, Australia, on December 6, 2020. Photo: Reuters

The 29-year-old emerged as a reliable death-bowling option for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League this season and was initially picked as a net bowler for India‘s tour Down Under.

However, an injury to spinner Varun Chakravarthy opened up a spot for Natarajan in the limited-overs squad and he made an instant impact, dismissing Marnus Labuschagne and Ashton Agar on his One-Day International debut in the third game of the series in Canberra.

In the absence of pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah, Natarajan’s pinpoint yorkers and slower ball variations then helped India secure the subsequent T20 series 2-1.

“He’s been the guy who has stood up and really delivered under pressure, which is outstanding,” Kohli told a virtual news conference.

“Very hardworking guy, very humble guy, and you feel happy for guys who are committed and working hard for the team when they get the results and make the team win.

“If he can bowl that well consistently it will be a great thing for us heading into the (T20) World Cup next year.”

Natarajan was the standout bowler in the high-scoring T20 series, finishing with six wickets at an economy rate of just under seven runs per over.

All-rounder Hardik Pandya was named player-of-the-series but thought the award should be shared with Natarajan.

“To perform brilliantly in difficult conditions on your India debut speaks volumes of your talent and hard work, ”Pandya said on Twitter “You deserve Man of the Series from my side.”

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