Self-belief is probably the most valuable asset that an individual can have. It can help us overcome the most difficult and adverse situations in our lives. Not only that, it helps us convert difficulties into opportunities and produces something that is absolutely miraculous and mesmerising.
When Krishnappa Gowtham helped Rajasthan Royals pull off a fascinating run chase against Mumbai Indians on 22 April at the Royals’ homeground in Jaipur, it gave us a glimpse of the immense self-belief he possesses. It was one of the shortest, yet most exciting, engrossing and unbelievable innings that we have ever witnessed in a T20 run chase. His 11-ball 33 totally changed the complexion and momentum of the game in the last three overs, helping his side in registering an unbelievable victory.
“I just believed in my abilities,” said Gowtham in an exclusive interview.
However, he didn’t deny the fact that the flame of his self-belief was ignited by his captain Ajinkya Rahane, the entire Rajasthan Royals team, coach and support staff. The positivity from all corners worked wonders for him and helped him to give his best shot in that tricky situation against Mumbai.
“The captain (Rahane) also told me to believe in myself saying that I have got this. The team management, the players and everyone was backing me. There was so much positivity around me. They just told me to go and do what I enjoy doing the most,” he added.
Along with that, he also laid emphasis on planning and practice in order to perform a task to perfection in a real situations.
Gowtham explained how having simulations of real match situations during practice sessions much before the tournament helped him to execute his shots and instincts to perfection on that memorable night in Jaipur.
“I am very happy that our team won. It was very close. And I am happy that I was one of the reasons behind that victory. We have done all these things in the practice sessions. We have had these kind of match scenarios much before the tournament. So when one of these actually come off in a real match situation, it really feels good,” Gowtham said.
These are exactly the kind of situations budding cricketers dream of being in. The six over deep mid-wicket to win the match was exactly the kind of shot each and every one of them would have dreamt of playing at some point in his career. That feeling of accomplishment is difficult to explain. It’s one of the best feelings in the world, yet we would fall short of words for describing it every time.
However, an individual is a complete team man if he can still see the bigger picture above that personal sense of accomplishment. Gowtham has realised how that victory over the defending champions, Mumbai Indians has made the players believe in each other more than ever before and he credits that win to the collective effort of the team rather than his individual contribution.
“It was a great feeling; one of the best feelings in my life you can say. These kind of matches make you feel really good. For me, more than my personal thing, everyone started to believe in each other more than they used to. It was a collective effort I would say and the feeling was like on top of the world for me. I was fortunate enough that I could cross the line for my team.”
There were numerous opinions on the price Rajasthan Royals had signed Gowtham up for. He made headlines securing a Rs 6.2 crore contract with the Jaipur-based franchise back in January this year on the back of a stellar domestic season. Some people felt that the Royals invested their money wisely in the right asset whereas others believed that they had probably paid too much for someone with ordinary abilities. The latter category of people probably felt they had won the bragging rights as the Karnataka all-rounder made a pretty sedate start to the campaign with both bat and ball.
However, his match-winning knock of 33 against Mumbai Indians proved that he is worth every penny of that hefty sum of money that the Royals paid to acquire his services. Gowtham, however, thinks that just a few bad outings doesn’t make anyone a bad cricketer, and that the individual has to remain calm and collected, continue the hard work and wait for his time to arrive.
“I am just here to make sure that I know what the job is assigned to me by the team. I just want to do my job. And about the auction and the money, it's just a part and parcel of it. You can't think too much about it. You just want to go by it.
“If it comes out well, it's well and good. And if it doesn't, it doesn't mean that you are a bad cricketer. Some days some things come out and some days they don't. You can't do too much about it. All that matters is the franchise trusts you. Few things have come out very well and worked for us. So I am happy about it.”
It took quite long for the 29-year old to make the right kind of noises. But now that he is making it, he is fully focused on continuing it for a long time ahead. He couldn’t even break into his state’s Ranji Trophy squad till last year after being discarded on the back of a pretty ordinary 2012 season. But here he is now with an improved version of himself. He could only make a comeback into his state’s Ranji Trophy XI in the 2016-17 season due to the timely advice of Erapalli Prasanna.
“Erapalli Prasanna convinced me to work on my run up and now I have slowed it down considerably which has actually helped in delivering results.”
His hard work was bearing fruit, but he didn’t stop there and soon became one of the key players in India A side across formats. And that was enough for the Mumbai Indians to snap him up with a Rs 2 crore pay cheque for the 2017 season.
Although he didn’t get to play any games for the Mumbai Indians, he learnt a lot of valuable lessons from the experienced heads in that set-up.
“I was fortunate that I was a part of the Mumbai Indians team as I got to learn a lot of things game wise, fielding wise and fitness wise. They have been a part of the construction phase of my career, you can say. Yeah, I didn't get to play any games but I learnt a lot of things.
“One or two games would have been really good for my career. But at the same time, I was a part of the winning side and my first IPL started off being the part of a winning side. So, I would always look at it in a positive way.”
A year later, Gowtham is playing for a different franchise, his stocks have skyrocketed to three times of what it was in the previous year. And the pressure of performing as one of the main all-round options, that too, being a part of a new set-up can get the better of even the best of the players. However, the transition turned out to be very smooth for him as the Royals family didn’t seem unfamiliar to him.
“The moment I came into the Rajasthan Royals franchise, I didn't feel like I was coming into a new franchise at all. They made me feel very comfortable. It just felt like I was walking into my home.”
He was very vocal about the way people like Zubin Bharucha (head of cricket), Amol Muzumdar (batting coach), Shane Warne (team mentor) and Sairaj Bahutule (bowling coach) welcomed him into the Rajasthan Royals family and made him feel at ease.
“Working with Zubin, Shane, Amol bhai and Sairaj sir has been quite an experience. They were all quite friendly while giving me this kind of an opportunity. It has definitely been good to work with them. There has been a lot of learning as well.
“Shane said just to believe in myself. He wants me to go out and express myself. Zubin is more of like he will make sure (sic) that which is required for a player. He has always been there and has always taken care of everything.
“And Amol bhai as batting coach has told me not to change many things... He has asked me to change only a few things... Not change actually! He has asked me to work on a few things. I have been working on them since.
“Sai bhai has been one of the best leg-spinners in our country in the past. There has been a lot of things to learn from him with the ball. So I have been enjoying my cricket.”
Despite the contribution made by all these people, and the opportunities, events, milestones, money and everything else, Gowtham maintains that it would not have been possible for him to turn his fortune around and make it this far without the love and support of his family and friends.
He can’t just imagine himself in this position without the extra push given by his parents and the support of his friends. Moreover, it is the values instilled in himself by his parents since childhood and a philosophical approach towards life that has helped him to bring about such a drastic change to his life for the better.
“I would give the entire credit to my family who kept supporting me throughout. Even my friends were always around, and they kept me on track, assuring me I had better things coming my way.
“My parents were the kind that drove me out of the house whenever I chose to skip the odd practice session. These values and a philosophical outlook of 'whatever happens happens for a reason' enabled me change for better.”
The journey till here hasn't been easy. But the Karnataka all-rounder has finally made it with the help of his hard work, dedication, skill-set and of course with priceless contributions from family, friends and mentors.
However, where one journey ends, another begins! And this IPL is just the starting point of his march towards a place in the Indian squad. But he is not rushing it. His main focus is now on performing well in the rest of the season with the belief that anything that is bound to happen will happen.
“I am now focused on doing well and improving performances. I want to prove my worth. IPL is a platform to get into the Indian side and I am keen to impress. Definitely, when you start playing cricket, everyone dreams of that India cap and it will be my dream come true moment. I am not rushing through it, though. If it has to happen it will happen.”