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Finally, Krishnappa Gowtham celebrated. He sprinted towards the wicketkeeper and leaped as high as he could, punching the air. It conveyed just one thing — Gowtham knew he had arrived. He had just picked up his fifth wicket, his second-ever five-for in first-class cricket. He would pick up two more to help bowl Assam out for 264 in the second innings, leaving a measly 20-run target for his team to complete a comprehensive win for Karnataka.
Gowtham is 28, not an age when you are afforded too much to time to prove your potential. But he is quickly making up for the lost time. He first broke into the side as a promising off-spinner in the 2012-13 season. But two matches were all he got in that season. He was promptly dropped, even as his state went on piling up trophies in the next couple of seasons. While it was the start of Karnataka’s golden era, wherein they collected every domestic plaque that was on offer, Gowtham was enduring the darkest period of his life. He was reduced to playing local level cricket in Bangalore.
But determined to make a comeback, he sought the tutelage of the legendary EAS Prasanna, and returned to the pitch with a renewed sense and knowledge of the art. He began bowling more sharply, with the focus primarily on sustaining tight lines. Soon, after the three-year hiatus, he got a Karnataka recall. He made in an instant impression, for a side that was inexplicably struggling for talent in the spin department, though they had a slew of fine medium pacers in the arsenal.
In his very first match this season, against Jharkhand, he picked up three wickets. In his next match, he snared eight as Karnataka thrashed Delhi by an innings and 160 runs. He notched up his maiden five-for and his best performance. But the best was bettered as early as the next match.
His recalibration now makes Karnataka all the more a dangerous side, and after an indifferent last season would give them the requisite impetus to reclaim the title this year. With two massive wins, they have already blared out their intent. It would please Gowtham that he played a significant part in both matches.
Brief scores: Assam 325 & 264 all out (Amit Verma 74, Rahul Hazarika 44; Gowtham K 7/108, Shreyas Gopal 3/97) lost to Karnataka 570/9 & 21/0 (Agarwal 17 not out) by 10 wickets. Points: Karnataka 7; Assam: 0