Natraj Behera on a roll: Three games, four tons
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During a day's break between Orissa's Ranji Trophy games against Vidarbha and Delhi, Natraj Behera decided to fly back home to Rourkela. With his last three innings scores reading 22, 8 and 7, the opener didn't have many cricketing tale to narrate to his mother Chitra. The home-coming was a tad sombre. "She was not happy with the way I was performing. I couldn't see the smile on my mother's face. I just told myself that's it, the next time I will come she will be proud of me," Behera said.
What followed thereafter was something even Behera couldn't have imagined on that dreary day in Rourkela. The 25-year-old slammed four back-to-back hundreds in Ranji Trophy and these came against all the big teams of domestic cricket. He slammed 158 against a Delhi attack which boasted of Ashish Nehra, Parvinder Awana and Sumit Narwal followed by 130 and an unbeaten 127 against Mumbai and on Tuesday in Ahmedabad, Behera slammed his fourth ton — a 106 against Gujarat.
And it was, once again, a stubborn and patient knock. He faced 254 balls and slammed 19 four in the course of his stay. Interestingly, all of his four tons have come when Orissa was chasing mammoth totals.
Hailing from a small state with no big star players, Behera knows what it takes to make it big. "If these four hundreds would have come with lean phases between them then it might not have had any impact. I play for a state from where only big runs can take me to my goal," he points out.
However, life beyond cricket has certainly been tough. Behera lost his father when he was just three months old. His mother Chitra worked as a 'nanny' at a nearby hospital to be the only earning member of the family.