IPL: Gowtham revels in big money pick

As his price tag began to rise, a nervous K. Gowtham decided to take a breather. He just couldn’t bear to watch. The Karnataka all-rounder missed the telecast segment where he was eventually picked by Mumbai Indians (MI), for a whopping ₹2 crore.

Gowtham was part of the India ‘A’ team, which faced the touring Australians in Mumbai where he scored a blistering 74 (68b, 10x4, 4x6), batting at six-drop.   -  K. Bhagya Prakash

As his price tag began to rise, a nervous K. Gowtham decided to take a breather. He just couldn’t bear to watch. The Karnataka all-rounder missed the telecast segment where he was eventually picked by Mumbai Indians (MI), for a whopping ₹2 crore.

His base price was ₹10 lakh. “I was at home, watching the auction with my family and friends. Since this was the first time I was appearing in an IPL auction, I was a little nervous. Once Mumbai Indians put in the first bid, I thought ‘OK, at least I will play the IPL for some team’. I was relieved,” Gowtham told Sportstar on Monday, a short while after the deal was finalised.

“But once the bidding reached Rs. 50 lakh, I stepped out of my house and went out to my compound. I was nervous, and I didn’t want to watch the telecast any further. I was satisfied just to be picked. I got to know about my final price and other details when I began to receive calls and people began to congratulate me,” he said.

Gowtham explained that he has “many questions” for senior MI player and fellow off-spinner Harbhajan Singh. “I am excited about interacting with Harbhajan Singh. He is my idol. I used to imitate his action when I started out. I will ask him for suggestions about how to stay in the right mental space, and how to go about getting the job done with the ball. I have many questions for him,” he said.

Hard work pays

The 2016-17 season has seen the 28-year-old go from strength to strength. He made a comeback to the Karnataka Ranji Trophy eleven after a gap of three years, and finished the campaign with 27 wickets at an average of 19.51. “It has been quite a journey. It all started with my club Swastic Union CC in Bengaluru around a year ago.

"I started taking wickets and scoring runs for Swastic, and then I did well in the KSCA Dr. (Capt) K Thimmappiah Memorial tournament, where I got the ‘Man of the Final’ award. After that, I was picked in the Ranji Trophy probables list, and then did well there to get into the final squad.

“In my first Ranji Trophy match this season, I took three wickets versus Jharkhand. Soon after that, I got a five-for (against Delhi). And now, I’ve been picked for the IPL. Things have moved very gradually for me - it is not like everything happened suddenly,” he said.

A string of good recent shows earned Gowtham a call-up to the India ‘A’ team, which faced the touring Australians in Mumbai. On Sunday, just a day before the auction, Gowtham smashed an entertaining 74 (68b, 10x4, 4x6), batting at six-drop. He was particularly severe against Aussie offie Nathan Lyon, regularly stepping out and whacking him down the ground.

Did the knock help his cause in the auctions? “No, I don’t think so. That was a different ball game - it was a three-day match. I just had to do my job on the field. It wasn’t like I timed that innings to get picked in the IPL,” he replied. And does Gowtham fancy a luxury car, now that he has the big bucks? “No fancy cars for me. I am not keen on any fancy items actually. I want to buy a house for my parents - that is all. Nothing lavish.”

MI executive and Mukesh Ambani’s son, Akash Ambani, on K. Gowtham: “He’s an off spinner, who can bat and be a pinch-hitter. We are looking at real leaders. The personality he has on the field will be a real asset to us. He’s experienced with the ball but he’s also a great leader of men.”