The uncapped Karnataka gun and the wizard from Barbados

By Gaurav Joshi

The beauty of the Indian Premier League is the way uncapped players rub shoulder with each other in dressing rooms and despite coming from different corners of the globe find ways to win for their respective teams.

In the Rajasthan dressing room there could not be two contrasting personalities. Jofra Archer, the 22-year-old from Barbados, standing six feet four inches, an athletic freak, dreadlocks bouncing on his neck as he runs in from 15 steps away and the gold chain bouncing up and down his chest as he delivers another 150km/h thunderbolt at the batsmen.

Alongside him is a shy, six foot boy with a scrawny build, a typical comb over hairstyle, a presence that defines a spin bowler, his accent has a distinctive South Indian tone, a body designated to bowl spin and his name – Krishnappa Gowtham.

Archer is still only 22, but his maturity and cricket smartness are well beyond his years.   Sources close to him say he is as good as an athlete as anyone on the island of Barbados. A fact evident in his 18 yard run-up that allows Archer to reach a speed of 25km/h before   gathering himself to send down his thunderbolts measuring in excess of 145k/h on a consistent basis.

Add to that raw pace, he has a sharp bouncer that has dented a few helmets on the quick surfaces in Australia during the BBL.   Then there is the yorker that he delivers from wide of the crease or from close to the umpires.   In the last couple of months he has also added the knuckle ball to his armoury.

A serious back injury in 2014 and his omission from the West Indies youth teams left Archer frustrated.   At a difficult time, he was cajoled by fellow Bajan and England pace bowler, Chris Jordan, who advised Archer to follow in his footsteps and embark on a future with England by playing county cricket.   Having signed with Sussex, then the Big Bash, Archer has been the most sought after T20 bowler in the past six months.

Gowtham in the meanwhile is a a product of the Karnataka academy, he has been highly rated for his ball striking and for his classical bowling action. It was also his power hitting at No.3 during a series of local T20 domestic tournament that caught the eye of the domestic selectors.

Last year Krishnappa Gowtham appeared to be another arbitrary name that appeared on the Board President playing XI against the Australians in a warm up match at the Cricket Club of India. For the first two days he went unnoticed, but on Day three he even had the Australian awestruck with his power hitting. Gowtham smashed Nathan Lyon for four consecutive sixes in a blistering knock of 74 from 68 balls.   A week later he would be picked in the IPL auction for 2 crores by the Mumbai Indians.

Both men are playing an instrumental role in rebuilding the Rajasthan Royals. They come from such diverse backgrounds that apart from the game of cricket everything else is stark contrast. But that is sheer beauty of the IPL it unites the talent from all across the globe.  Gowtham along with Archer are classic examples.




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