Thangarasu Natarajan has had a fairytale trip to Australia amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Picked just as a ‘net bowler’ after his impressive performances for Sunrisers Hyderabad in 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Natarajan has become the first Indian player to make his debut in all three formats of the game during the same tour when he made his Test debut against Australia in the fourth and deciding Test at the Gabba on Friday.
After making his ODI and T20I debuts for India earlier in the series, Natarajan made his Test debut to cap off an incredible breakthrough season. The 29-year-old took two wickets on his ODI debut for India and followed that up by picking up six wickets in the three-match T20I series. His performances were so good that Hardik Pandya nominated him for the Man-of-the-Series award as well.
After injuries to Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin and Mohammad Shami, Natarajan made his Test debut at the Gabba. Incredibly, it was young Natarajan who brought injury-hit India roaring back into the contest with the back-to-back wickets of Matthew Wade and centurion Marnus Labuschagne.
The 29-year-old left-armer has been a skiddy bowler and makes up for lack of pace with his great accuracy. With Australia cruising at 200/3, Natarjan dismissed the well-set Matthew Wade for 45, who was too late on a pull shot and skied the ball to Shardul Thakur running in from mid-on
The SRH paceman immediately followed it up with a prize wicket of Labuschagne, who was going strong at 108. Labushagne, who was dropped in the slips by both Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara before his century, also miscued a pull shot only for wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant to accept the skied offering.
With Navdeep Saini off the field with a groin injury, a lot will depend on Natarajan, Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur, if India hope to restrict Australia to a reasonable score after losing the toss and bowling first in Brisbane.