Shreyas Gopal, the usually-shy leg-spinning all-rounder, has set off on celebratory runs after picking wickets on more than one occasion this season. The key member of the Karnataka Ranji Trophy squad has an explanation for his uncharacteristically expressive displays.
“It’s because of the moments in which I am getting wickets. So many matches this time have been very close, we are winning matches in the final sessions. You enjoy a lot when you get those crucial wickets on pitches that aren’t helpful. We planned a lot, encouraged every bowler and dived to stop runs. When these things pay off it’s a great feeling and I am enjoying that,” says Shreyas.
Karnataka, thanks to the new format and also due to their slightly inexperienced squad, have had to fight their way to the semifinal of the Ranji Trophy. In many of their nervy wins, Shreyas has played a key role. Be it his two or three-wicket bursts in crucial junctures of the game or his useful cameos down the order, Shreyas’ consistency has helped Karnataka in wobbly situations.
With 31 wickets, the 25-year-old is the highest wicket-taker for Karnataka this season. Also, his 376 runs from nine games make him the third highest-run getter for his side.
“When it comes to bowling, it’s about having patience. I bowl 12-13 overs without getting any wicket but I also try not to give away runs. So quietly, the pressure has been built. And then the batsman is bound to make a mistake. Sometimes, I give extra focus on a batsman’s weakness and it works,” says Shreyas.
The right-hander is a technically sound batsman. His scores might not always reflect the real significance of his knocks but Shreyas isn’t worried about the numbers. “Firstly, I know my limitations. Every batsman can’t be a Sachin Tendulkar or a Virat Kohli. So I stick to my strengths. And batting in the lower order and batting with the tail actually gives me the belief that I can pull off worthy knocks. The bowlers, who bat with me, always trust me to carry the innings forward,” explains Shreyas, who has 183 wickets and 2283 runs in 55 first-class cricket.
Interacting with Shane Warne, Rajasthan Royal’s mentor in the IPL, has been an inspiring experience for Shreyas. “He increases your self-belief. He is a superb speaker. He makes you feel that you are a great bowler. And for someone with so much international achievements to talk like that is something unbelievable. His pep talks kept me going throughout the tournament,” says Shreyas.