Left-Arm Pacer Troubles: Is Natarajan The Hope?

Left-arm pacers play a key role in any team’s bowling line-up as they create chances against right-handers with the new ball. They have the ability to bring the ball into the right-handers with the new ball which can put the batsman under threat. Every international Cricket team has at least one left-arm fast bowler in their team. While New Zealand has Trent Boult, Australia has Mitchell Starc, and England has Sam Curran, David Willey, etc.

India had a bunch of left-arm pacers in the team in the decade of 2000s. They had likes of Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Irfan Pathan, RP Singh, etc. But India has struggled to find good left-arm bowlers in the last decade. Left-arm pace as a variation proves to be quite handy at times. The slower ones which the left-arm pacers have are more efficient compared to that of right-arm pacers.

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To fill the void left by the likes of Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra, India has tried a few left-arm pacers in the last decade:

Jaydev Unadkat

Jaydev Unadkat, a gratifying talent who left a mark in the U19 World Cup in 2010, got an immediate call-up for India in Tests. He played one Test match which remains the only Test in his career, and he went wicketless. He had that spark in his bowling which India needed as he could make the ball move both ways. Unfortunately, he was not able to prove his talent on the biggest stage. He was consistently doing well in the domestic seasons but struggled on the bigger stage.

Barinder Sran

Barinder Sran with a unique action had something to offer to the team. Hence, he was taken to Australia when India went down under in 2016. He showed a fair bit of promise but was left from the team after 2016. He didn’t play a single game for India after 2016.

Khaleel Ahmed

Everyone was introduced to Khaleel Ahmed in the U19 World Cup 2016. He then debuted in the international team in 2018. He took 25 international wickets ever since. Although he has the knack of picking wickets, they have often come at the cost of high economy-rates which has been a problem for India.

Natarajan: The New Hope

T.Natarajan is the most talked prospect in recent times. Although he wasn’t in the list of highest wicket-takers in this year’s IPL, he bowled the maximum number of yorkers in the season. In fact, he registered the record of bowling second highest number of yorkers in the IPL history. He’s just behind Lasith Malinga who’s the best in the business. He bowled one of the balls of the IPL 2020 where he got the mighty AB de Villiers with his straightish yorker into the middle stumps. AB de Villiers getting knocked over by a fast bowler is rare and Natarajan proved his mettle with this yorker.

The 29-year-old got his maiden call-up for the Indian T20I squad against Australia in which he replaced the injured Varun Chakravarthy. Earlier, BCCI named Natarajan in the list of 4 uncapped bowlers who would travel with team India. As of now, he’s also named as a back-up option in the ODI squad as Saini complained of a back spasm.

There’s something special about T.Natarajan which could assist team India. First of all, he can be used as an effective death bowler. Death bowling is an area where India has usually struggled. Natarajan’s yorkers will be handy in those situations. Bowling yorkers is tough for a bowler and to bowl it as consistently as Natarajan is a complicated job. There were a couple of matches in the IPL where he was wicket-deficient but was quite economical in the same. Mind you, he bowled a last over against Rishabh Pant and Shimron Hetmyer and just went for 7 runs.

As India has struggled to find talented left-arm pacers in last 7-8 years, they must pay attention to this significant talent. Indian team can’t afford to lose this guy. Australia has already crushed India in the first 2 ODI’s in which India missed their 6th bowling option as their prime bowlers failed to perform. Natarajan can play a crucial role and work as a variation for the skipper. As Saini has leaked too many runs in the death, India might consider replacing him with Natarajan in the third ODI before the T20I series. It’ll be a great opportunity for him to have a go before the awaited T20I series.

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