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Natarajan, Sundar: From net bowlers to Test debut

January 15, 2021 07:38 IST
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IMAGE: Thangarasu Natarajan, right, and Washington Sundar. Photograph: Kind courtesy, BCCI/Instagram

It was a dream come true moment for Thangarasu Natarajan and Washington Sundar as the Tamil Nadu bowlers made their Test debuts in the final Test against Australia at the Gabba in Brisbane on Friday.

The fast bowler and spinner were part of India's limited overs team against Australia and stayed back for the Test matches to bowl in the nets.

But a spate of injuries in the Indian camp combined with the difficulties of flying in replacements amid the COVID-19 pandemic handed Natarajan and Sundar unlikely debuts in the Test format.

Washington Sundar

IMAGE: Washington Sundar was preferred ahead of Kuldeep Yadav.

Off-spinner Sundar was surprisingly chosen ahead of specialist spinner Kuldeep Yadav, a member of the Test team.

Captain Ajinkya Rahane and Head Coach Ravi Shastri preferred Sundar for his ability to contribute with the bat lower down the order as frontline spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja -- who can also bat well -- missed out because of injuries.

Thangarasu Natarajan

IMAGE: Thangarasu Natarajan in the prized India Test jersey. Photograph: Kind courtesy, Thangarasu Natarajan/Instagram

Natarajan, who earned national call with his performances in IPL 2020, continued his rapid rise in international cricket as he was picked in a four-man pace attack for the pace friendly pitch at the Gabba.

'Colours may change but the passion is always high,' Natarajan noted as he posed in the India Test jersey on Instagram after he was included in the squad ahead of the third Test in Sydney last week.

The injury-ravaged Indian team made four changes for the series decider. Opener Mayank Agarwal will bat in the middle order after Hanuma Vihari was ruled out with injury.

Mumbai pacer Shardul Thakur was handed another Test lifeline as he made a comeback after more than two years. Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah was also left out of the Brisbane game due to injury.

Thakur bowled just 10 deliveries in his Test debut before he dropped out with injury in the game against the West Indies in Hyderabad in 2018.

This is easily the least experienced bowling attack India have fielded in a Test match this century -- with a combined experience of just four Tests between the five bowlers.

Mohammed Siraj is the most experienced with two Tests after he made his debut in the second game at the MCG. Navdeep Saini and Thakur have played a Test each.

'The last time India had 6 or more players with fewer than three Test caps in their Test side was 1955,' tweeted The CricViz Analyst.

It has been a strange Test series for India with Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara the only two players to feature in all four games.

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