Dubai: Hat-trick boy Shreyas Gopal will never forget Tuesday night’s Indian Premier League (IPL) match between his Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore in front of his home crowd in Bengaluru. Although rain reduced the match to a five-over contest and then washed away the possibility of a result, the only bright spot was Gopal’s show.
It was a special hat-trick as the wickets included the world’s finest batsman Virat Kohli, the demolisher of any attack AB De Villiers and one of best T20 batsman Marcus Stoinis. This 25-year-old Karnataka leg spinner who grew up idolising legends such as Anil Kumble and Shane Warne has earned respect from all batsmen, especially through this IPL. He is now the second highest wicket taker in this edition.
Gopal’s forte is his accuracy and produces more googlies than leg-spinners. This is what makes him unpredictable and has resulted in many batsmen falling into his trap. Interestingly, Gopal had began his career as a batsman and even got selected to the Karnataka team as a middle-order batsman. He quickly changed into a leg spinner and worked hard on his skills. In 2013-14 season, when Karnataka emerged as the Ranji Trophy champions, he bagged 22 wickets. Like he did on Tuesday night, in the following Irani Trophy against Rest of India, he produced a hat-trick.
Gopal did not give up his batting skills and in the second season he even hit two centuries. Gopal enjoys T20 because he loves to bowl in short spells and squeeze runs. His ability to break partnerships has made him the man to turn on when things are getting out of hand.
Gopal has made it a habit of picking up the wickets of his rivals’ best batsmen. In the previous match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, he took the wickets of skipper Kane Williamson and top scorer Manish Pandey. In the match against Delhi Capitals, he ended the 78-run opening partnership by claiming the scalps of both openers Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw. Against Mumbai Indians, he took the valuable wickets of opener and skipper Rohit Sharma and his opening partner Quinton de Kock.
Gopal believes in learning about his skill every day. Recently he openly acknowledged that Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan has a better googly delivery than him and want to learn from him. It is his ability to learn from anyone that has helped him reach where he is now.
Gopal is another example for youngsters on how to focus on studies too and make a mark in cricket. Despite cricket, he completed engineering from Jain University. He is blessed to have born in a sports loving family as his father Ramaswamy Gopal was a club cricketer for two decades and his mother Amitha played volleyball at the state level.
Though he idolises Kumble and Warne as bowlers, it is the advice from Rahul Dravid that he carries with him. “Keep working hard, you will come up.”