Pacer Jasprit Bumrah was rested for the T20I series and Mohammad Shami too didn’t play the last two games. Natarajan didn’t disappoint his skipper and led the charge in the T20I series.
Natarajan had made his debut in the shortest format of the game in the opening T20I against Australia, two days after playing his first match in international cricket on December 2.
Kohli said the left-arm pacer stood up for the side in the absence of the pace bowling duo of Shami and Bumrah.
“Natarajan special mention for him as in absence of Bumrah and Shami. He has been the guy who has stood up and really delivered under pressure. And it’s an outstanding fact that he is playing his first game at the international level,” Kohli said during a virtual press conference.
“He looks very composed and is a very hard-working guy and very humble too. I wish him all the best and a left-arm bowler is always an asset on the field and if he can be consistent it will be a great thing for us heading into the World Cup next year,” he added.
Australia secured a 12-run victory over India in the third T20I at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Tuesday. While India had already won the three-match T20I series after winning the first two games, Australia won the last game to avoid a whitewash.
Kohli was happy with players putting up a good performance in the limited-overs series. The skipper also praised the young Indian players who don’t have much experience at the international level.
“The fact that this was the squad who haven’t had so much exposure at the international level from that point of view it was a very nice performance especially after losing the first two ODIs we came back nicely in the third and showed belief,” Kohli said.
“And we carried that momentum in the first T20Is fighting back till the last minute. Even today’s game was also a close encounter. I think the stand out is the guys are not giving up. Someone is putting up their hand every time and making an impact for the team,” he added.
India will now lock horns in the four-match Test series against Australia which gets underway on December 17. The first match will be a day-night affair and Kohli will head back home after the first Test as he has been granted paternity leave by the BCCI.
Rohit’s availability for the Test series is also not clear as his fitness will be reassessed on December 11 at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.