A Royal wrong 'un

Shreyas Gopal

It is a dream for every bowler to snare the best in the business. Shreyas Gopal got this opportunity not once but twice. The leg-spinner foxed two of the biggest names in world cricket, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, on Tuesday and called it the best moment of his career.

The Karnataka spinner had also removed the superstar duo during their 19-run win over RCB at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in IPL last year. On Tuesday, the image of Shreyas celebrating in wild disbelief after his googly clattered the stumps of Kohli in his second ball was a sight to behold.

South African batting genius AB de Villers too failed to pick his wrong 'un and Shreyas ended with the figures of 3-12 in his four overs. With this, he emulated the RCB coach and former left-arm spinner Ashish Nehra in dismissing the two batting stalwarts.

“Getting Virat Kohli and AB Villiers in the same match is a dream for any youngster. It is the best moment of my cricketing career and definitely one of the biggest of my IPL cricket,” said Shreyas, who has dismissed De Villiers three times in as many matches, and Kohli twice.

“Any wicket is a big wicket, obviously they come with big names. So it feels even better. But I feel I shouldn’t be getting ahead of myself and stay calm.”

The 25-year-old said he never went by a plan despite Kohli’s and De Villiers poor strike rate against googly in IPL since last year. “I feel it is hard to plan a dismissal for batsmen like them (Kohli and De Villiers). You just need to be able to bowl your best ball and try and hit the best area on that particular wicket,” he said.

“When you reach a ground you obviously do a little bit homework. What type of ground it is, how the wicket is reacting, how the opposition has been playing. So for example (Krishnappa) Gowtham bowling three overs in powerplay, it is uncommon but it felt like a good idea at that moment. I got a feeling I should go with the googly. I was mixing it with sliders and leg-spin,” he said.

“In between overs, I just go to Ajju Bhai (Rahane), Jos (Buttler) or Smith and have a couple of words and try to understand what they think about the game because they have a lot of experience.”

Shreyas' heroics would not have surprised those following him in the Karnataka team. Drafted in 2013-14, he played his part in Karnataka winning the Ranji Trophy after 15 years. He went on to take a hat-trick against Rest of India (in the Irani Cup). He has four first-class hundreds, with a top score of 150, nine half-centuries and over 200 wickets combined in various formats of domestic cricket.

Shreyas, who was part of the Karnataka team which won their maiden Syed Mushtaq T20 tournament last month, said the experience helped. “The first-class season was important. Doing well over there got me confidence. Obviously, we're bowling to much better batsmen here, yes, but the confidence helps,” he said.

 

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