Every year, the IPL auction creates a lot of intrigue amongst the cricketing fraternity, and this year’s auction too, was no exception to this established norm.
Ben Stokes and Tymal Mills were the were picked up for life-changing sums of money and although they were billed as the top attractions, the value of the final sum surprised many. But the most heartwarming story of the auction was that of uncapped pacer from Tamil Nadu – T Natarajan, who was drafted by Kings XI Punjab for INR 3 crore, 30 times his base price of INR 10 Lacs. Here's a small montage of what we can expect from IPL's newest find –
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Natarajan hails from Chinnappampatti, a sleepy village 36 kms from Salem. His mother runs a street-side stall while his father works as a porter for village railway station. Natarajan is the eldest of the five siblings. He used to play cricket with his friends in a make-shift ground in his village. Noticing his raw talent and undying spirit, A. Jayaprakash encouraged him to work hard on his game. Encouraged by the appreciation, he moved to Chennai and joined a cricket club.
His ability to bowl great yorkers soon earned him a call-up to Jolly Rovers Cricket Club, a very popular cricket club which has produced players like R Ashwin and Murali Vijay.
He made his Ranji debut in 2015 against West Bengal at the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata. Just when everything looked good, he was reported for suspected action. It was a heart-breaking moment for Thangarasu but he did not give up. Under the guidance of former Tamil Nadu players who were a part of BCCI’s panel to rectify illegal bowling action, he worked hard on his run-up and loading to comply with the rules.
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His hard work and perseverance paid off as he was selected to play for Dindigul Dragons in the inaugural edition of Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) where he kept the batsmen guessing with his incisive mix of short-pitched deliveries and toe crushing Yorkers. Consistent performances earned him another breakthrough in 2016 Ranji Trophy.
“I was under a lot of pressure when picked to play in TNPL. But I am thankful to people like Ashwin, Vijay and L Balaji (Tamil Nadu's bowling coach) who instilled the belief in me that I was good enough at the Ranji Trophy level,” Natarajan said in an interview with PTI.
Due to the exceptional variations his bowling has and the ability to bowl yorkers at will, he is now famously referred to as ‘Mustafizur Rahman’ of Tamil Nadu. Expressing his happiness on getting drafted in the auction, Thangarasu said he is looking forward to play for Kings XI Punjab and meet his role model, Australian pacer and Mumbai Indians spearhead Mitchell Johnson, during the tournament. He was happiest about the fact that his struggles have finally bore fruit and things are now looking up for his family.