Krishnappa Gowtham's modest IPL numbers (24 games, 186 runs and 13 wickets) do not justify his ability as an all-rounder. However, his exploits didn't go unnoticed, and he was on the wishlist of multiple IPL franchises in this year's auction.
Despite having an underwhelming IPL campaign last year, Krishnappa Gowtham was snapped up by the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the IPL 2021 auction for a whopping INR 9.25 crore. That made him the most expensive uncapped Indian player in IPL history.
Currently, Krishnappa Gowtham, who is also the ABM at Bank of Baroda, is with the Indian team as a net bowler. In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda on Friday, the 32-year-old spoke about his excitement of playing under MS Dhoni, his Team India aspirations, and much more.
Excerpts from Krishnappa Gowtham's exclusive interview with Sportskeeda
Q: So have the butterflies settled yet or are they still there?
Krishnappa Gowtham: No no, they're all settled. Finished my practice also. So yes, it's all good now.
Krishnappa Gowtham: Yes, there were a lot of jitters, I was very nervous. But at the same time, I was very happy, In fact, I can't even express it. The emotions were really high.
Q: How was the atmosphere in the Indian team when they came to know that you became the most expensive uncapped player in the history of IPL?
Krishnappa Gowtham: Hardik Pandya and Rohit Sharma were the first people to congratulate me. And in the team room, they came around, actually bumped into me and were very happy and congratulated me thoroughly. They told 'you very much deserve it', so it was a special moment.
Q: Are you excited to play under MS Dhoni?
Krishnappa Gowtham: Yes, it's a dream come true for me, being a part of a franchise where MS Dhoni is everything of that team. I am a very big follower of him. He is my role model, you can say, because the way he carries himself on the field and the way he conducts himself, it is something which I always look up to.
Q: Can you recall your first interaction with MS Dhoni?
Krishnappa Gowtham: The first time I spoke to him was when I was playing for Rajasthan Royals (RR). I just went up to him and spoke to him about how is it that he is very calm under any situation.
So he explained things that I try to cultivate in my game, and it has helped me a little bit also. But yes, lots to learn, so I am looking forward to it.
Q: You might have to replace Harbhajan Singh, which is certainly not an easy job to do. You also might get all 14 games to play. So how do you see yourself in that role?
Krishnappa Gowtham: Yes, I would love to play all the games, but at the same time, I can't be complacent, and I can't take too much pressure also. I just need to go out there and try and do the best I can instead of thinking about the other factors which are not in my control.
At the same time, as you are replacing a legend, it is very difficult to fill in those shoes. But if the CSK management has shown so much faith in me, I would love to go out there and try and give the best out of me and win a few games.
Q: Although you didn't get game-time at MI in 2017, but you might have enjoyed sharing the dressing room with a star-studded squad. Thoughts?
Krishnappa Gowtham: Yes, I enjoyed my time at MI. More than enjoying, I think I learnt a lot of things like the way they conduct themselves before and after the games, what it takes to exactly have a high-performance cricketing culture.
I would say that I recreated myself there. I discovered myself, understood what was that thing that I needed to do more often to be more successful and get better as a cricketer.
Q: Was it a bit frustrating that you were not getting game-time? Or was it understood that since there were so many star players, you were there more as a backup?
Krishnappa Gowtham: See, you can't get frustrated or desperate to play. Yes, there was this willingness to play the match. But at the same time I understood that you got to wait, there is something called game-time that happens, so we have to wait for our moment.
So I was just hoping and trying to do my best in whatever possible way. So yes, I did my bit, I did try my best. We had practice games, and I just enjoyed them.
Q: You got your first big break in the IPL through the Rajasthan Royals. Can you still remember that game against MI when you were tonking the bowlers. That was the first time you announced yourself on this stage. Thoughts?
Krishnappa Gowtham: That's the beauty of the game. I backed myself in that game against MI to go after the bowlers. Sometimes you do come out with flying colours, sometimes you don't.
But at the same time, you need to take those chances, and I guess the chances that I took came off well that day, and I was at a fruitful end.
Q: Could you tell about your camaraderie with some of the players in that RR group?
Krishnappa Gowtham: I liked spending time with them. Everyone out there was very helpful to me. They were always there, just one-call-away kind of a franchise. So I would say it was just like a second family for me.
Q: You came into last season's IPL on the back of a hundred and an eight-wicket haul in the same game in the KPL. But it kind of didn't work out for you at KXIP. How did you keep yourself motivated?
Krishnappa Gowtham: See those things are not in our control. Whatever was in my control was to do my best when given an opportunity. Sometimes the team combination doesn't fit, and sometimes things don't go your way.
But it's not the end of the world, and there is something big coming up. Every athlete goes through that, and I am no exception.
Q: IPL franchises of late are paying a lot of attention to performances in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Do you have any advice for your Karnataka mates?
Krishnappa Gowtham: I would just say that since you are good, you are representing your state. That is one of the best compliments you can get. So I would say you just have to be there, do whatever that is in your control, just enjoy the game more than anything else.
Q: Was it a difficult decision to skip the Vijay Hazare Trophy for Karnataka and go in as a net bowler for India?
Krishnappa Gowtham: That is not in our control. If the management tells you that you need to go out there and bowl to the Indian team, you can't expect anything better than that. You are being watched by the main team, you are rubbing shoulders with them. So this is something you can say is a blessing in disguise.
Q: Going into the Indian team as a net bowler, then suddenly making a debut for India (T Natarajan reference) was something that happened Down Under. Does it come into your mind sometimes that you might get a chance here?
Krishnappa Gowtham: That's the ray of hope what you have, right? As everyone has, even I wish too. But at the same time, I would want the team to win. That is the most important thing for me, keeping myself as a secondary thing. Main thing is to win the tournament. I would wait till I get the opportunity.
Q: Rubbing shoulders with probably the best off-spinner in the world at the moment, Ravichandran Ashwin, how is it? Did you learn any tricks from him?
Krishnappa Gowtham: I am trying to learn whatever possible from him around. It is always good to keep enhancing your technique and stuff. I am trying to get the best out of whatever possible to learn things from him.
Q: There has been a debate about the No. 7 slot and the difference that Ravindra Jadeja's absence is making to the Indian Test team. Do you see your name popping up at No. 7?
Krishnappa Gowtham: See, there is always a ray of hope, and I am just hoping for it. If it happens, it happens. I can't be a Jadeja, or I can't be someone else; I can be myself. Whatever the best possible way I know to score runs is the way I bat - aggressive, defensive - but the objective is to score runs.
O: Do you see yourself in Team India's T20 World Cup squad if you have a great IPL? Have you set any goals for yourself?
Krishnappa Gowtham: If there is an opening in the team and if there is any chance, I would love to be a part of it. Being a part of India itself is a great feeling, and I will be on top of the moon. It is just one day at a time which I believe in.