Remember the name: Around 14 months ago, Krishnappa Gowtham smashed Nathan Lyon for four sixes in a warm-up match to the India-Australia Test series at the CCI. “Who is this guy?” the Aussie off-spinner is known to have asked Shreyas Iyer, who was batting at the other end. A day later, the Karnataka all-rounder who’d just come off a three-year stint in the wilderness was lapped up by the Mumbai Indians for a cool Rs 2 crore price-tag—10 times his base price. Gowtham though then spent the entire 2017 IPL on the bench. He slipped off to Rajasthan Royals during the auction this year for another big sum of money.
On Sunday, he came back to haunt Mumbai and reminded them of just who he was with a blistering knock of 33 in 11 balls to see Rajasthan home from a position where they looked down for the count. Jasprit Bumrah had just bowled a terrific 17th over, conceding a single run and getting rid of Sanju Samson for a classy 52 and Jos Buttler in consecutive deliveries. That left the Royals needing 43 off the last 3 overs. Heinrich Klassen fell off the first ball of Mustafizur Rahman’s next over, bringing Gowtham to the crease. The tall off-spinner finished that over off with a big six over mid-wicket and an edged four. The match was still Mumbai’s to lose with Bumrah with an over to go.
Mumbai’s ace finisher with the ball, who’d just bowled the stingiest over of the match would then go on to deliver the costliest in more ways than one, conceding 18. Gowtham was responsible for 10 of those, smashing two fours—one a powerful cut past the point region followed by a slightly streaky hoick towards the on-side—leaving 10 required of the last over.
Gowtham crossed over to the striker’s end as Jofra Archer skied a catch off Hardik Pandya’s first delivery. Off the next ball, he played the most audacious of ramp shots to a full and wide delivery over two in-fielders. He then refused a single before walloping a short ball over deep mid-wicket to turn himself into a household name overnight. Ian Bishop was on the air for good measure too.
On everyone’s lips
The one name on everyone’s lips going into this year’s IPL has been Jofra Archer. And almost anticlimactically, the Bajan-born England-hopeful T20 cult hero has sat out with a side strain for the first two weeks of his maiden stint here in India. Few cricketers have perhaps created the kind of hype that the 22-year-old all-rounder has in world cricket despite being close to four years from playing an international match.
And for all his unassuming coolness, Archer would have been anxious to show the IPL universe just why his entry into this sphere has been so incessantly anticipated. The stage was set. He eventually didn’t just end up lighting it up, he owned it.
On day one of his IPL stint, Archer started off by showing all his tricks with the ball. He delivered the second-fastest delivery of the tournament—clocking 149.8 kph—showed excellent control and cerebral precision with his yorker, exhibited his many variations and got a wicket with a knuckle ball. He also showed that West Indian flair that’s expected in the IPL from every cricketer who is of Caribbean origin, not only in his wicket celebrations but also in the almost nonchalant way he carried himself on the field for the first time as a million-dollar superstar.
His spell of 3/22—which included three wickets in his final over—also turned the match around and ensured Mumbai only scored 37 runs in their last five overs.
Brief Scores: Mumbai Indians 167/7 (Suryakumar Yadav 72 off 47; 6 fours and 3 sixes; Ishan Kishan 58 off 42; 4 boundaries and 3 sixes; Dhawal Kulkarni 4-0-32-2, Jofra Archer 4-0-22-3) lost to Rajasthan Royals 168/7 in 19.4 overs (Sanju Samson 52 off 39; 4 boundaries; Ben Stokes 40 off 27; 3 boundaries and 1 six; Krishnappa Gowtham not out 33 off 11; 4 boundaries and 2 sixes; Jasprit Bumrah 4-0-28-2)