After a bidding war at the IPL auction in Chennai on Thursday, Gowtham was bought by CSK, his price surpassing that of Krunal Pandya‘s then record of Rs 8.8 crore by the Mumbai Indians in 2018 for an uncapped player.
“It was nerve-wracking, I was very anxious, watching on TV,” Gowtham, who is currently with the Indian Test team here as a net bowler for the series against England, told ESPNcricinfo.
“We’d just landed in Ahmedabad and I’d just switched on TV and my name came up. Emotions were changing every minute. Then, Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya knocked on my door and gave me a big hug and they asked for a big treat.”
His base price was Rs 20 lakh, and he was quickly the focus of a fierce bidding war between the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Sunrisers Hyderabad, before CSK swooped in with a late bid.
The 32-year-old off-spin all-rounder from Karnataka has modest IPL statistics. He has played just 24 matches in three seasons since 2018 and has scored 186 runs and taken 13 wickets.
He was a part of Rajasthan Royals for two seasons — 2018 and 2019 playing 15 and 7 matches respectively — and was with Kings XI Punjab (now Punjab Kings) in 2020 where he featured in just two games before being released.
Gowtham’s parents and wife in Bengaluru were in tears when they came to know of the good news.
“My parents had tears, happy tears. They were all so happy for me,” Gowtham said.
“It’s hard to describe that feeling. It’s all just sinking in. Obviously this isn’t the first time I’ve been part of the auction but every time your name comes up, the kind of butterflies in your tummy is unimaginable.”
Gowtham, an India A regular, will be playing under Mahendra Singh Dhoni at the CSK and he remembers queuing up with a few other uncapped players to get his bat signed by the legendary wicketkeeper batsman after an IPL game three years ago.
“The first time I met him, I asked MS what I needed to do to take my game to the next level,” Gowtham recalled.
“It was a fanboy moment. After that, I’ve managed to chat with him a couple of times, haven’t really had long chats, they have just been short and simple. I’m waiting to now join the set-up and have many fruitful conversations with him. It’s an exciting feeling to play for CSK.”
Five years ago, things were tough for Gowtham when he was gripped by self-doubt.
He had been reported for a suspect action that needed remodelling.
Then, he was not picked by his state team Karnataka even after his bowling action was deemed legal.
“It was tough sitting out, yes there weren’t too many opportunities, but I tried to make the most of my time. That is the kind of person I am, you have to keep learning and improving every day,” he said.
“I worked on my fitness, worked hard on improving my skills in the nets and making the most of learning from Anil Kumble and other senior coaches so that I could be ready whenever the opportunities comes.
“Keep giving your best. Every day is a new opportunity. My aim is to be a better version of my previous self. Day by day, keep getting better. It’s just that simple.”