Shreyas' omission raises eyebrows

Last Updated 10 January 2021, 17:21 IST

What are the chances of a player -- who is a regular member of the playing XI of his Indian Premier League team -- getting a royal snub from his state team in the same format against a side like Jammu and Kashmir? Zero, you might say. But if the player answers to the name Shreyas Gopal and the team is Karnataka, then you have just got it wrong.

In an otherwise expected win for Karnataka over J&K in their opening contest of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy here, the omission of all-rounder Shreyas Gopal - who played all of Rajasthan Royals’ matches in the 13th edition of the IPL in the UAE - from the playing XI was an unexpected development.

Karnataka went in with five bowling options, one part-time all-rounder and five batsmen for the game at Alur on Sunday as wicketkeeper-batsman K L Shrijith made his debut and Aniruddha Joshi was picked for his batting abilities. Though Karnataka’s strategy worked against the minnows, the fact remains that Shreyas had done nothing wrong to be left out in the first place.

Karnataka fans raised eyebrows on social media when the team was announced. “It was a tough call,” coach Yere Goud told DH. “All our players are doing well. It was a decision made to pick the best combination,” he added.

Shreyas had a mixed-bag of domestic season last time but his numbers in T20 cricket in recent times made him an automatic choice.

In the IPL, the 27-year-old was Royals’ joint second highest wicket-taker with 10 scalps. In the run-up to Mushtaq Ali, Shreyas impressed in the KSCA T20 league, bagging 10 wickets from six matches for Swastic Union Cricket Club (1).

“The playing XI is the complete prerogative of the coaches and the captain. When I was told about the XI in the morning, I respected that. I was sure the coaches had reasons to go with that combination,” Fazal Khaleel, chairman of selectors, told DH.

Last year, Shreyas had a quiet Vijay Hazare Trophy and lost his place to another leg-spinner Pravin Dubey at the fag end of the tournament. But in the Mushtaq Ali meet, Shreyas played an integral role in Karnataka’s triumphant run, becoming the tournament’s second-highest wicket-taker with 19 scalps.

“Shreyas need not prove anything. At some point in time, Shreyas will play a pivotal role in the tournament. With a 12 noon start and wickets being overused, he will be useful. It was one of those days where the management wanted to try out a combination and I respect that,” explained Khaleel.

(Published 10 January 2021, 17:16 IST)

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