It was in 2017 when Ravi Shastri took on the role of the Indian national team’s head coach. Two years later, his tenure was extended for two more years due to the results that he has produced during his stint.
Under Shastri’s tenure, the Indian team became the first Asian team to beat Australia in Australia in a test series. While India finished as the runner-up in the first cycle of the World Test Championship. His tenure ended after the T20 World Cup 2021 in which Team India could not qualify for the semi-finals.
In a recent interview with ESPNCricinfo, Shastri hailed Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) pacer, T Natarajan as the death-over specialist and said the Indian team missed him in the T20 World Cup 2021. This was in response to Natarajan ending up with a figure of 2/26 against Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) in Match 12 of IPL 2021.
“Very happy for him. We missed him in the World Cup. He would’ve been a certainty had he been fit. He got injured against England when we were playing the ODI series and we really missed him (in the World Cup). He’s that specialist death bowler, bowls those yorkers very skilfully. He’s got great control. He is skiddy. A bit quicker than you think and hits the bat,” Shastri said.
In the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League, Natarajan scalped 16 wickets in 16 matches and was one of the key reasons to take the SRH team to the playoffs. He was soon rewarded with a national call-up later in the same year. Since then he has featured in 4 T20Is, 2 ODIs, and 1 Test.
But, after sustaining an injury, he could not take part in the entire IPL 2021 and lost his place in the Indian team as well. He made a return to the cricket field in IPL 2022 and has picked up 4 wickets in 2 matches. The former head coach also spoke about Natarajan being a lucky charm for the Indian team under his tenure.
“Every game I’ve picked him we won. In his debut in T20, India win. In his debut in Test cricket, India win. From a net bowler, he played those other two formats,” Shastri added.