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How could I disagree when the perfect example of that was right in front of me,” says Periyaswamy, talking from the UAE. Karthik along with KKR team analyst A.R. Soon after Natarajan’s first-class debut in 2015, he found his name in the list of bowlers called for suspect action. At the end of the refresher course, Natarajan fetched him a contract with a TNCA fourth division club. But his background turned out to be a blessing in disguise. From eight in the morning to eight at night, the two bowlers and their teammates would squeeze into share autos with their wooden stumps and bats, and hop from one village to the other. Varun can bowl offbreak, legbreak, googly, carrom ball, fipper, topspinner and a slider. It’s the same for most of the older generation in the village, who, like Natarajan’s father Thangarasu, used to work in the power looms that dot the outskirts of the village or in the cracker factories in neighbouring villages. 8.4 crore in the IPL auction on Tuesday. In a recent interview to a publication, the mystery spinner said that he has as many as seven variations. Natarajan’s story is unique also for how he is raising back the village that raised him, inspiring another generation of cricketers in this back-woodsy village. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines. However, this year he made his Ranji Trophy debut against Hyderabad. READ: Mystery spinner Varun makes heads turn, "I am very happy and excited. The Sunrisers Hyderabad bowler has already landed 27 in the block-hole in seven games; Jasprit Bumrah, the most vaunted yorker expert, has only been able to muster 17 this edition. The TNPL 2019 is scheduled to be played from July 19 to August 18 across three venues. Chakravarthy began playing cricket when he was 13 but took up architecture after several rejections in age-group cricket. So everything from the run-up, the gather, loading and release had to be realigned. “It’s when the batsman starts attacking a bowler that the old habits kick in. Within two years, Natarajan was bowling for one of the elite clubs of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association league, Jolly Rovers, which had Murali Vijay, Ravichandran Ashwin and Jayant Yadav, among others. The storyline went thus: A failed district cricket player spots Natarajan, launches him in the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) league, from where he rises so dramatically that he’s picked in the state team, then the Tamil Nadu Premier League and finally the IPL, when Kings XI Punjab shelled out Rs 3 crore in 2017 to acquire him. And when he comes home, they burst crackers and distribute sweets, and take turns to invite him for lunch or dinner. But none of this mattered to them. IPL has been familiar with rags-to-riches stories of small-town players but Natarajan’s goes deeper. So indebted is Natarajan to his mentor that on his SRH blazer is emblazoned ‘JP Nattu’ — JP for Jayaprakash and “Nattu” the name Natarajan goes by among family. “I was trembling, because I was bowling with my hero,” he says. And why? With a base price of INR 20 lakh, Dube was finally picked by Royal Challengers Bangalore for INR 5 Crore. A week later, Jayaprakash gave him a pair of cricket shoes, a train ticket to Chennai and the contact number of a friend, who managed to secure him a contract with a fourth division cricket club in Thiruvallur, 40 km from Chennai. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service, CHENNAI: As many as 53 cricketers from Tamil Nadu have registered for the upcoming, 53 Tamil Nadu cricketers register for IPL auctions. 53 Tamil Nadu cricketers register for IPL auctions; Winning Ranji team players sign up for IPL auction; Samsung has just announced the #FullOn Galaxy F series, and the hype is crazy! His shoulders were falling away and hence, he was loading up too far away from the body. In one of the club cricket games that they played in, Jayaprakash tossed a brand new leather ball in Natarajan’s direction and asked him to bowl. All this in less than five years. IPL Auction 2019: Tamil Nadu's uncapped mystery spinner and all-rounder Varun Chakravarthy aka C.V. Varun was picked up for Rs 8.4 crore by Kings XI Punjab. To the children at the academy who tell Natarajan that their ambition is to become “like him”, he says, “Athukum mele (Even bigger).”. On the day of his matches, there are prayers at the local temples. “The idea of the academy is not to make money; in fact it’s entirely free for the children who train here. The younger one, G Periyaswamy, 26, known locally as the Salem Slinger for his Malinga-like bowling action, was the highest wicket-taker in the 2019 edition of the Tamil Nadu Premier League. It was the first time Natarajan had ever held a cricket ball in his hands. Sometimes, he invites state players to the academy.” It takes 13,000 balls for the new action to set in, and I think he might have even bowled more,” Subramaniam says. This dream script, though, is still being written. I would say he is even bigger… a real-life hero.” He later returned to the game, honing his skills as a spinner able to bowl both off and leg breaks, with quite a few tricks under his hat. Three years into the academy, the efforts are already producing results. He would be here by around 7 in the morning and stay till evening, talking, teaching. He brings them unalloyed joy. All along, he doesn’t forget his old friend, who is working as a weekly-wage labourer in a local kiln to pay off his father’s debts, takes him under his wings, develops him into a state cricketer. To continue enjoying Sportstar, you can turn off your adblocker or subscribe to Sportstar Plus. The change was a seemingly minor rectification, but one that called for immense practice and unlearning. The storyline went thus: A failed district cricket player spots Natarajan, launches him in the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) league, from where he rises so dramatically that he’s picked in the state team, then the Tamil Nadu Premier League and finally the IPL, when Kings XI Punjab shelled out Rs 3 crore in 2017 to acquire him. He listens to the same old songs, walks barefoot in a lungi when he’s home,” says Periyaswamy. A few months after Natarajan’s first IPL stint in 2017, the academy came up in a half-acre land that belonged to his friend K Krishnakumar. The floors are now a beautiful green ceramic and the walls, painted sunrise yellow, are covered with framed photographs of Natarajan with his parents, siblings and Jayaprakash. For most tennis-ball bowlers, yorkers are a weapon of survival; for the two, it was also a weapon of emancipation — shaping for them a trajectory that would have been unimaginable less than a decade ago. 31st Match. The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Tell me, who will open an academy in such a remote place? Delhi Capitals, Kings XI Punjab, Bangalore and Mumbai Indians placed its bids and Delhi backed out at 1.1 crore before Bangalore picked him for a whooping amount. He returns home a millionaire, turns his mud house into a bungalow and starts a cricket academy for the local children. The reason he started the academy, Natarajan recently said in a Sunrisers Hyderabad video, was to give the youngsters of the village the exposure he never had. This is where the mystery spinner got a chance to meet West Indian spinner Sunil Narine and picked his brains. Such was his performance that he earned praise from former Australian batsman Mike Hussey. A movie buff, he pauses and strikes a Rajinikanth parallel: “Namma ooru Rajini Nattu annan tha (The Rajinikanth of our village is Natarajan). What was once a two-room structure with mud floors and a tiny verandah, is now the only two-storey house in the village. Srikkanth asked Varun to bowl in the nets. Explained: Does BSP hold any influence in Bihar? Periyaswamy spent the next six months at the Natarajan Academy, working on his bowling, and unlearning pessimism and learning to dream. “I could imagine what he was going through. Like most young men in the village, their dreams rarely strayed beyond its physical boundaries — Natarajan knew he would end up being a porter or a weaver like his father, and Periyaswamy would help his father in his tea shack. A cricket academy in Chinnappampatti would seem out of place. Natarajan’s first project from his IPL megabucks was to revamp his house. He is the superstar of Chinnappampatti. Natarajan realises he could easily have been the one to slip away unnoticed, if it wasn’t for Jayaprakash. A day before the IPL auction, Dube smashed Swapnil Singh for five sixes in an over during Mumbbai's Ranji Trophy match against Baroda. The gates to “namma veedu (our house)”, as the villagers call it, are always open. Natarajan was determined to bounce back,” says Subramaniam. Kings XI Punjab snapped up the uncapped player, who is a qualified architect. If the last decade was about the boys from Ranchi, Najafgarh, Jalandhar and Shrirampur giving competition to those from the big cities, Natarajan’s rise shows the cricket boom is reaching further down the kuchha road. Gowtham, academy coach N Prakash says, is their best-kept secret — “our next Natarajan… kandippa (certainly).” This is what Natarajan had envisaged when he set up the academy — to produce professional cricketers from his village. Nine years ago, Natarajan and Periyaswamy themselves would have shrugged off their storyline as pure fiction. And remarkably, he didn’t lose much pace or sting, which happens to most bowlers after correction,” he says. ", "I am happy to be part of the side with R. Ashwin and I just hope to learn from the experience of playing in the IPL.". That’s when Subramaniam realised that he was watching a special player, one with exceptional grasping skills. He recalls the conversation in 2017 with Natarajan that pulled him back into the game. In the nine List A matches that he has played, Varun has picked 22 wickets which includes a five-wicket haul. “I knew it would not be enough for his bus ticket and food. Sandip Gsandip.email@example.com... read more, Copyright © 2020 The Indian Express [P] Ltd. All Rights Reserved, T Natarajan has delivered 27 yorkers since the beginning of this IPL season. Varun Chakravarthy aka C.V. Varun, a 'mystery spinner' and all-rounder from Tamil Nadu, bagged Rs. Former CSK net bowler! I was nervous before the auction and did not expect to get picked beyond my base price." At times, even Periyaswamy wonders if it’s all real. I want the next generation to enhance their chances of making a career out of cricket,” he said. That most physically demanding and difficult of all fast-bowling tools, where the margin of error is minimal, the energy expended enormous. From her meagre profit, she would set apart Rs 5 every day for her son. The experience, Periyaswamy says, is akin to watching a Rajini movie. So it was comparatively easier,” says Subramaniam.Thus began an intense regimen, wherein he would first shadow bowl with his new action, then bowl with the ball in hand but not hurl, then gradually start bowling without a run-up, then run-up with two strides, then at full pelt, first without a batsman at the other end, then with one playing defensive strokes and then finally a batsman playing attacking strokes. But I would give him that during his college days. The TNPL player drafted is set to take place on July 4 and after the completion of the draft, TNPL 2019 Teams Squad and full players list will be released. The allrounder who has been in excellent form for Mumbai is currently the second-highest run-getter with 489 runs. And then came the yorker. Delhi Capitals vs Rajasthan Royals. But Natarajan didn’t, which showed his adaptability and will power. The leg-spinner was also the second highest wicket-taker in the the recently concluded Vijay Hazare Trophy. “One evening, when I returned home from the kiln, he was waiting for me at my house and told me to quit the job. Just when the stifling April heat slows down life in Chinnappampatti, a village 36 km west of Salem in Tamil Nadu, the lives of two young fast bowlers would pick pace.
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