T Natarajan emerged as one of the star players in the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League. He took 16 wickets in as many matches for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the tournament, as the franchise reached the playoff stage of the tournament. On the back of his impressive performances, Natarajan was selected for India’s international assignment against Australia, and eventually made his debut across all the three formats in the tour Down Under.
Among the many wickets Natarajan took in IPL 2020 was that of Chennai Super Kings’ captain MS Dhoni. He dismissed the CSK wicketkeeper-batsman in the final over of the innings, as he got him caught at long off. The wicket was special for Natarajan as he had earlier told Ravichandran Ashwin in a chat that he wanted to take the wicket of Dhoni.
In a conversation with ESPNCricinfo, Natarajan recalled the dismissal.
“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,” Natarajan said.
The left-arm pacer also revealed Dhoni’s advice to him after the match.
“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.
Talking about the upcoming edition, Natarajan said that the return of Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be helpful to him in pressure situations. In the 2020 edition, the pacer was ruled out early in the tournament with an injury.
“I know I will have to do the job 100 percent. I will have to focus on not missing my length and have a clear plan for that scenario. If I miss my length, I am aware that I will be taken for runs. I have bowled under pressure in the past, so all of those experiences will help me this season. Bhuvi is back and in form, so he will share his thoughts when I’m under pressure,” Natarajan said.
“Our team has good communication and it’s like a family. Even if I give runs, the team management backs me, so that gives me the confidence that I can come back. I’ve also never played an IPL game at Chepauk. I think Vijay Shankar has played IPL in Chennai, but this will be the first time for me in Chennai. I’ve played a lot of cricket at my home ground, so it will be nice to play in Chennai.”