Krishnappa Gowtham-Waiting On The Wings
Nicknamed ‘Bhajji’ after his childhood idol, Harbhajan Singh, Krishnappa Gowtham grabbed the limelight in IPL 2018, representing the Rajasthan Royals who picked him up for a whopping Rs. 6.2 crore. However, his cricketing journey started way before his big move where he started playing at a very tender age, coached by none other than Erapalli Prasanna. Fast forward to 2019 and the batsman and right arm off-break bowler currently plays for Rajasthan Royals, Bellary Tuskers and Karnataka in the domestic circuit. The 30-year-old hard hitting lower order batsman has also previously played for Mumbai Indians (IPL), Mysuru Warriors (KPL) and Belagavi Panthers (KPL). His all-round utility in all three prisms of the game has made him a mainstay for all the current teams he is representing.
Since the rise of the IPL phenomenon, a domestic cricketer’s career has been defined by their performances in the 12-year old tournament. Since the past two seasons, Gowtham’s IPL and KPL exploits have been such that there have been murmurs in the Indian circuit for a T20 call-up. However, the selection of the lanky all rounder depends on the performances of the likes of spin duo, Kul-Cha, Krunal Pandya and Washington Sundar in the upcoming home season which will serve as a buildup to the T20 World Cup down under in 2020.
Forget about smashing the door down but the Karnataka all-rounder’s inroads in first class cricket haven’t even knocked on the doors of the selectors when it comes to ODI’s and Test formats. However, his current focus would be on to step foot in the T20 side, especially on the back of scintillating performances in this year’s KPL where he scored an unbeaten 134, which was the highest score of the tournament and picked up 8/15 in the same match. No guesses for who was the man of the match.
Along the way in the record-breaking performance, he not only smashed the fastest ton of the tournament, a record previously held by India’s new golden boy, Mayank Agarwal who scored 119, but also produced the best figures ever in a T20 match; eclipsing the figures of 7/18 by Colin Ackermann from South Africa in the Vitality Blast.
As of May 2019, his domestic figures read a grim picture where he has played 32 matches with a batting average of meager 18.89, scoring a total of 737 runs and picking up 116 scalps at 25.56. However, in the 2016-17 Ranji Trophy season, he came into his own by picking up two consecutive matchwinning 5-fers against Delhi and Assam. In the same season, he accounted for a total of 18 wickets from only three matches. This grabbed the selectors’ attention as he was rewarded with a selection for India A.
Playing for India might still be a tall order for the experienced all-rounder, but consistent performances in the T20 leagues might just be enough to push himself into the frame and add some firepower to the middle or lower middle order. Nonetheless, it won’t be easy as the Pandya brothers have firmly solidified their place in the XI with their solid displays in the last 2 years.
Truth be told, the fastest way for Krishnappa Gowtham to represent India is to bring in more variations into his off-breaks and become a gun fielder. And also, most importantly, pick loads of wickets so that he becomes the all-round package that is simply impossible to ignore. It may only be a matter of time before we see the boy from Bangalore in blue.