Rajasthan Royals' IPL hero Krishnappa Gowtham ready to wait for India opportunity
When the Rajasthan Royals snapped up KPL sensation, Krishnappa Gowtham, for a massive bid that was 31 times his base price at the IPL auction earlier this year, many a brow were raised in scepticism.
There was a substantial amount of apprehension on whether the youngster would be able to replicate his heroics from the KPL on to the big stage. The all-rounder took his time, but when he did announce himself in the IPL, fans and experts alike were left gawking at his unquestionable talent.
Sportskeeda caught up with the 29-year-old for an exclusive chat after his successful tour of England with the India A team. He spoke about his experience of playing under Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane, his eventful stint in the IPL this year, and dream of playing for the country one day.
As a team, you had a very successful tour of England, especially in the shorter format of the game. How was the overall experience?
It was a great experience. Being a part of any India A tour is always something you can look forward to. There are a lot of things you can learn from (on these tours). Playing in different conditions on different wickets always helps you grow as a cricketer. Winning is the most important thing and we won the tournament playing against a very good England A side, which was very special.
A legend like Rahul Dravid is the head coach of the India A side, something that must add a lot of value to your team. Considering the fact that he did so well in England as a cricketer, how much of a help was that in playing in alien conditions in the country?
It is a great thing that Rahul sir is the coach of the team. He has been one of India's most successful cricketers in England and he knows how the wickets will behave as well as the conditions we will play under.
He isn't the kind of person who would instruct you to tune your style to the coaching books. He just lets the player express himself on the field, taking his time to prepare us mentally for every challenge. He is a very approachable person who isn't very strict or tight with his team.
If you want to have a conversation with him, you can go to him any time. He doesn't think like 'I am the coach and they need to listen to me' and lets every player be. Mr. Dravid always tells us that at this level, you have to be loyal to yourself, nothing more and nothing less.
You were redrafted into the Mysuru Warriors in the Karnataka Premier League 2018 auctions. How does it feel to be a part of that franchise once again?
KPL was one of the stepping stones of my career. I have been a part of the Mysuru Warriors and I am very happy that I am back with them this season. Unfortunately, I won't be able to play the first league of the game, courtesy my commitments with the India A side. I would miss playing for them, but yes, my wishes will always be there with them. As a franchise, I think they are one of the best in the KPL and they're extremely professional.
Talking about franchise cricket, you were with the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL this year. It was a great tournament for you personally. However, considering RR went all out in the auctions and that the squad looked very strong, you had a quiet start to the competition. However, you did manage to make an inspiring qualification in the playoffs of the tournament. So would you say that you overachieved or underachieved as a whole?
See, the franchise made a comeback into the tournament after a two-year layoff, which was very difficult for the team. Players like Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes were very important for us and it took us time to play to our full potential in the tournament.
I would say we could have done a little better than what we managed. Nevertheless, we did get into the playoffs and I am happy about that.
Ajinkya Rahane was the leader of the side through the tournament and this was the first time in his career that he wasn't just a stand-in captain. How was the experience of playing under his leadership?
Jinks as a captain is very calm. We spoke about Rahul bhai earlier, Rahane is a lot like him. He, too, lets the player express himself on the field. He was more like a friend who appreciated and backed you as a player. He did give us the liberty to do whatever it took for us to take it to the next level as a cricketer.
As a captain, he was very straightforward with his vision. We did respect each other's privacy and gaming style, and he understood that as a captain. I would say he did a fair job.
Looking back at the time you spent under him in the IPL, do you think Ajinkya Rahane has it in him to take up full-time captaincy for the national side in the future?
There is always a possibility. He is a regular in the Test squad, so you never know. If Virat (Kohli) has an injury or isn't available to play a particular game, Jinks can definitely step into that role.
Who was your role model growing up?
I have always said that it was Harbhajan Singh who I got inspired from. You can say he was my role model.
Talking about finger-spin, do you think it is a dying art in the fast-paced formats, where wrist-spinners generally tend to take more wickets in today's day and age?
You can definitely say that there aren't many (effective) finger spinners as of now. But if you see closely, you would notice that (Ravi) Ashwin was doing really well in T20 cricket when he came into the Indian side. I would say that we (finger spinners) have done a pretty decent job this year and have notched up good numbers.
Having an economy of around 7 in T20 cricket and picking up wickets in the powerplay is not an easy job for an off-spinner. In my case, I got the backing from my teammates, who gave me the confidence to shine in the shortest format of the game.
I believe it is a matter of time. You cannot keep any particular kind of cricketer out of the game indefinitely.
Everyone knew who Krishnappa Gowtham was after he helped RR win the game against Mumbai. Everyone knew what your name was after the IPL. Before all that fanfare, though, you must've faced a lot of struggle. We never really know what a cricketer goes through before he gets this kind of fame and success. Could you walk us through that phase of your life?
Struggle is something every person has to go through. I would say I have just done whatever it takes to be where I am in life today. I just did my bit. The struggle definitely is real, but I wouldn't want to focus on that, as every sportsman faces it in his career.
Yes, I did invest a lot of hours when it came to practice. However, more than the physical effort I put in, the mental aspect of it all did play a big role in my life. Thinking about the game and how to approach it made a lot of difference for me. That was a bigger struggle than putting up the numbers.
Since you spoke about mental fitness, we must touch upon the same from a broader perspective. Many sportsmen have come out and revealed their struggles with anxiety and depression. However, in cricket, it hasn't happened yet. Not many cricketers have come out and spoken about their mental battles. Why do you think that is?
I would say that athletes who compete in individual sports are more likely to suffer from such conditions. In a team sport, you have someone who is always there to lift you up. There are so many people behind you, who are ready to carry you even when you are not doing well.
To put it in simple words, when you are out of form, there are people around who help you get your confidence back. You will always have someone who will keep reminding you that you are good enough to be where you are.
Dealing with this kind of stress is all about how calm you can be when you are not doing good and how accepting are you of the failure that comes your way.
Would you classify yourself as a batting all-rounder or a bowling all-rounder?
I would always consider myself to be a bowling all-rounder.
What are your expectations from the South African challenge?
I am fully focused on the series and I am working extensively on my bowling as well as batting. I also played a practice game in a tournament where I tried a few new things with the bat, which worked out quite well. I could score around 60 runs off just 20-25 balls, which would essentially be my role with the India A side, when I come out to finish the innings.
Are you thinking about playing about the senior team at the moment or are you not focusing that far ahead right now?
It is every cricketer's dream to play for the country. When you start playing cricket in India, your primary goal is always to represent the national side. Yes, I am thinking about playing for the senior team sometime soon and I will wait for that opportunity to come my way. But at the same time, I haven't forgotten about the process and I will focus on the same to take me where I want to reach.