From playing tennis ball cricket in Chinnapampatti - a village near Salem in Tamil Nadu - while battling poverty to becoming the 232nd One-Day International player for India. T Natarajan's dream journey in cricket took another huge step forward as he was handed the India ODI cap in the third game against Australia in Canberra on Wednesday.
Natarajan, 29, has made it to the Indian team on the bank of a terrific Indian Premier League for Sunrisers Hyderabad where he earned the name 'yorker Natarajan'. Son of a daily wage labourer and a mother who runs a chicken shop in the village, Natarajan had to struggle to make a career out of the game.
Incredibly, Natarajan had not played with a cricket ball until the age of 19. Recognising his talent, his mentor JP Nattu took him under his wings and took him from his village to Chennai, giving him an opportunity in the Chennai league.
Soon, however, Natarajan was battling issues with his bowling action and was out of action for some time. Once he returned, though, he began showing what he could do - years of tennis ball experience coming to the fore in bowling death overs in the T20 format.
The birth of Natarajan as a death bowling specialist had taken place a few years before the IPL, where he dismissed even AB de Villiers with a pinpoint yorker.
His big breakthrough came in 2016 when he enjoyed a successful stint for Dindigul Dragons in the inaugural TNPL, attracting the attention of the IPL scouts. He was then picked by Kings XI Punjab for Rs 3 crore in 2017, but took three years to come of his age at the big stage, having proved expensive in the six games that he had played in the past.
He was picked by Sunriesrs Hyderabad in 2018 but played his first game for them only this season.
In the intervening period, he has managed to build his parents a house, give his sisters education, open an academy in his Chinnappampatti village in Tamil Nadu's Salem district and convince a teammate to not give up the game.
That is not all, Natarajan has opened an academy in his village in an effort to provide the necessary facilities to youngsters, which he did not have.
The 29-year old is also helping out many people who used to play with him and G Periyaswamy, who rose to prominence in last year's Tamil Nadu Premier League, is one of them.
(With pti inputs)