A brilliant gesture from India has provided a touching aftermath to the side's Twenty20 series triumph over Australia.
Australia weathered a Virat Kohli batting masterclass to record a 12-run victory in their T20 series finale at the SCG, where a boisterous crowd of 30,436 went home thoroughly entertained.
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Kohli threatened to deliver his first T20 ton for India and a 3-0 series victory but legspinner Mitch Swepson, who grabbed 3-23 from his four overs, helped the hosts bank a consolatory win ahead of the four-Test series.
India's Hardik Pandya was named player-of-the-series after starring for the visitors with the bat in the first two T20s against Australia.
However, the allrounder praised the contribution of Thangarasu Natarajan - the 29-year-old quick who was representing his country for the first time in Australia.
The left-arm paceman picked up six wickets in the three-match T20 series against Australia and was economical with the ball - conceding just 72 runs across the three games at 6.91 runs per over.
Natarajan - who picked up key wickets for India in all three T20 matches - hails from a small Indian village and wasn't fortunate enough to make his way up in the cricketing world through more traditional pathways.
His story is one of hard-work, dedication and the refusal to give up on the dream of playing cricket for his country.
Natarajan's long wait finally ended after he was named to make his debut in the third one-day international against Australia - a moment respected Indian cricket broadcaster Harsha Bhogle hailed on social media.
“What a day for Natarajan. What a story. If you are 29, don’t lose hope. Wish him well," he wrote.
“Back in my hotel room and contemplating the magnitude of what a young man from Chinnappampatti achieved today. @Natarajan_91’s debut shows us that Indian cricket is a meritocracy. And may it always be that way.
“That he has reached here is beautiful.”
Indians praised for wonderful gesture
Natarajan's rise explains why Pandya handed his player-of-the-series award to the bowler after India's T20 series against Australia.
Pandya's classy gesture was matched by India's captain, who also gave the journeyman bowler the team's trophy for winning the series.
The wonderful photo of an ecstatic Natarajan holding both trophies during the team photo melted the hearts of cricket fans around the world.
Natarajan, you were outstanding this series. To perform brilliantly in difficult conditions on your India debut speaks volumes of your talent and hardwork 👏 You deserve Man of the Series from my side bhai! Congratulations to #TeamIndia on the win 🇮🇳🏆 pic.twitter.com/gguk4WIlQD
— hardik pandya (@hardikpandya7) December 8, 2020
— Saurav Sharma (@SauravS17671382) December 8, 2020
excellent gesture!! King for a reason
— jason (@_ftjason) December 8, 2020
Hardik Pandya hand over the man of the series award to Natarajan.
Amazing gesture. 💙💙🤩 pic.twitter.com/gi7wdZLFJa
— Ashwin Ravi (@ashwin_ravi07) December 8, 2020
A brilliant gesture from Hardik Pandya, who gave his Player of the Series award to Natarajan https://t.co/Um35b6XIZ9
— Arman Ali (@learningislife1) December 8, 2020
Hardik Pandya - The most down to earth human being. He handed his Man Of The Series award to T Natarajan because he felt he deserved that award. pic.twitter.com/T9DZ6zjhNc
— Mufaddal Vohra (@mufaddal_vohra) December 8, 2020
“Natarajan, you were outstanding this series. To perform brilliantly in difficult conditions on your India debut speaks volumes of your talent and hard work,” Pandya wrote alongside a photo of the two on social media.
“You deserve Man of the Series from my side bhai!”
Pandya said he was determined to acknowledge his teammate and send a message to young players all around the world to never give up on their dreams.
"I want people to believe in themselves and to achieve anything even if odds are against them," Pandya said.
"It's just my way of appreciating his hard work over the years. For me, Natrajan deserves the Man of the Series award.
"To perform so brilliantly on his debut speaks volumes of his belief and the talent he possesses."
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