Team India have performed well in T20I cricket under captain Rohit Sharma, who has won 32 of his 40 matches at the helm of the side. The Men in Blue were recently eliminated from the 2022 Asia Cup though, as losses to Pakistan and Sri Lanka sent them packing in the Super 4 stage.
India have experimented a lot in white-ball cricket over the last year, with both personnel and roles. With the team opting to rest and rotate for a few series, several fringe players have been handed the opportunity to feature in a string of games on the international stage. Unfortunately, some of them haven’t been able to keep themselves going at the highest level.
Here are three Indian cricketers who have faded away after a bright start to their international careers.
#3 Rahul Chahar
IPL Qualifier – Mumbai v Chennai
A player who broke out with the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League (IPL), Rahul Chahar was picked in India’s 2021 T20 World Cup squad ahead of Yuzvendra Chahal even though he had only a handful of games under his belt. He also made his ODI debut in the same calendar year, helping himself to a three-fer.
Chahar played only one game in the tournament after India were eliminated and hasn’t been in the national picture since. He has seven wickets from six T20Is at an economy rate of 7.59, numbers that aren’t too bad considering Chahal’s poor recent form. The young leggie even scalped three wickets in a T20I against Sri Lanka just before last year’s T20 World Cup, a performance that seemed like it would catapult him into a leading role.
But Chahar has fallen off the radar completely, with Chahal finding a new lease of life in the format and Ravi Bishnoi’s unique skillset making him the second-choice wrist-spinner. Even Kuldeep Yadav seems to be ahead in the pecking order.
Chahar was decent in his debut season with the Punjab Kings and another good IPL campaign could see him return to the fold.
#2 Venkatesh Iyer
India v New Zealand – T20 International
Like Chahar, Venkatesh Iyer hasn’t put too many feet wrong in international cricket. As India were searching for a pace-bowling all-rounder in the absence of the injured Hardik Pandya, the Indore-born lad was fast-tracked into the national side on the back of an impressive IPL season with the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2021.
Venkatesh has done himself no harm with his displays in T20I cricket. He has registered scores of 4, 12*, 20, 24*, 33, 35* and 5 in a difficult lower-order role and has scalped five wickets in the four matches he has bowled in. But when Pandya returned, the all-rounder wasn’t needed anymore, and the fact that he had a poor IPL 2022 season didn’t help matters.
Venkatesh is still on the fringes of the Indian team, but his technical weaknesses and India’s current combination might keep him out of the side for some time.
#1 T Natarajan
Australia v India – T20 Game 1
T Natarajan burst onto the IPL scene from relative obscurity, impressing all with his ability to swing the new ball and deliver unerringly accurate yorkers at the death. India desperately needed a left-arm pacer, and the man from Tamil Nadu fit the bill better than most.
Natarajan shone on India’s tour of Australia, making an unexpected Test debut in the historic Gabba encounter and regularly picking up wickets in the white-ball leg. But since then, the 31-year-old hasn’t been able to sustain himself at the highest level, suffering a spate of injuries that have pushed him out of the national setup.
Natarajan hasn’t played for India since March 2021 and doesn’t seem close to a recall even though he grabbed a heap of wickets for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 2022. With Arshdeep Singh being the Men in Blue’s premier left-armer and others like Mohsin Khan, Yash Dayal and Khaleel Ahmed not far away, the door might be closed for Natarajan.