Re­ju­ve­nated Natara­jan rekin­dles Tamil Nadu hopes

The New Indian Express - - SPORT - ASHOK VENU­GOPAL

AUS­TRALIAN pace leg­end Glenn Mc­Grath dur­ing a chat with Ex­press had said that a fit and healthy body is half the job done for a fast bowler. Tamil Nadu’s T Natara­jan learnt this the hard way.

He rose on the pop­u­lar­ity charts when he was picked by Kings XI Pun­jab in the IPL auc­tion in 2017 for `3 crore. Then on, he was in and out of Tamil Nadu team due to in­juries. Com­ing from a hum­ble back­ground, the left-arm quick did not know much about in­jury pre­ven­tion and took time to be back in shape. Now un­der Tamil Nadu trainer Ramji Srini­vasan, Natara­jan has learnt how to take care of him­self.

This at­ti­tude was there for all to see as a ram­pag­ing Natara­jan along with Rahil Shah took three wick­ets each to help Tamil Nadu re­strict Ker­ala to 151 for nine on Day 2 of the Ranji Tro­phy Elite Group B match at MAC Sta­dium on Fri­day.

Af­ter Tamil Nadu were all out for 268 leav­ing Shahrukh Khan stranded on 92, Natara­jan and M Mo­hammed bowled with pace and verve. While Natara­jan could get good bounce and carry, Mo­hammed bowled in the cor­ri­dor with­out much bounce or move­ment.

Natara­jan cas­tled opener Jalaj Sax­ena, beat­ing him neck and crop with sheer pace. Rat­tled by the blow, the visitors went into a shell and started play­ing de­fen­sively. KB Arun Karthik thwarted the medium pacers but was done in by Rahil. None of the Ker­ala bats­men ex­cept P Rahul ap­plied them­selves and wick­ets fell at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals. Natara­jan also claimed Sanju Sam­son and Basil Thampi later.

“I was happy with the way I bowled. In­juries are a thing of the past. Our spin­ners bowled well. The wicket was good and had ex­cel­lent bounce. I was able to pitch the ball in the right ar­eas. We bowled as per plan and man­aged to keep them at around 150,’’ said Natara­jan. But Tamil Nadu let the tail wag and from 111 for seven, Ker­ala added pre­cious runs. “We didn’t at­tack them as much we did against their top and mid­dle-or­der. Nev­er­the­less, around 300-350 will be a good tar­get to set on this track. We ex­pect turn on the fourth day when it will be dif­fi­cult to bat,’’ added the lanky speed­ster.

On the other hand, Rahil was al­most un­playable from the pavil­ion end. Pleased with his show, he cited con­fi­dence as the rea­son be­hind his good show­ing. “It was more or less a con­tin­u­a­tion of last match (Ben­gal) where I got 10. The ball was com­ing nicely out of my hands and I kept it tight not giv­ing too much width.” Rahul was the lone bats­man to put up a fight.

“Pleased with my ef­fort. The spin­ners were dif­fi­cult to play. Our bats­men could have ap­plied bet­ter. We will strive to per­form bet­ter in the sec­ond es­say,’’ said Rahul.

| D SAMPATHKUMAR

Tamil Nadu play­ers cel­e­brate a wicket at Chep­auk on Fri­day

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