Hardik Pandya, on Tuesday, gave away his Man of the Match trophy to T Natarajan, saying that the left-arm pacer's performance in his debut series is a testament to his talent and skill. 29-year-old Natarajan was slotted into the national side after his stellar performance in the recent IPL edition in the UAE, where he scalped 16 wickets in 16 games for SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH).
Initially drafted into the T20I squad, Natarajan was later included into the ODI squad after Navdeep Saini complained of a back spasm. Making an impressive debut for India in the third ODI of the series, the 29-year-old pacer had picked up two wickets. He followed up with a brilliant show in the T20I series where he scalped six wickets in three matches at an economy of 6.91.
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Natarajan, you were outstanding in this series. To perform brilliantly in difficult conditions on your India debut speaks volumes of your talent and hard work Clapping hands sign You deserve Man of the Series from my side bhai! Congratulations to #TeamIndia on the win," wrote Pandya along with sharing a picture with the Tamil Nadu ace.
Pandya handed over his award to Natarajan while skipper Virat Kohli gave him the T20I series trophy. The pacer was seen with both the prizes when the Indian team posed for photos after the T20I series triumph.
After delivering impressive performances in the Tamil Nadu Premier League, Natarajan's maiden IPL call-up arrived in 2017, when Kings XI Punjab bought him for Rs 3 crore. It was an uneventful stint, however, as he played six matches, took only two wickets and had an economy rate of 9. He shifted his base to the Hyderabad franchise a year later but his breakthrough season arrived this year when Bhuvneshwar Kumar was sidelined due to a thigh muscle injury.
Along with Natarajan, Pandya also had a brilliant white-ball tour in Australia. Proving his worth with the bat, the Baroda all-rounder emerged as India's top run-getter in the ODI series with 210 runs. He also finished the second T20I at Sydney by slamming two sixes in the last over when India needed 14 runs to win.
Pandya, however, wasn't able to produce another match-winning innings when India was chasing 186 in the final T20I. He departed after scoring 20 off 13 deliveries as the visitors missed out on the chance to etch a 3-0 series victory.