24 year old Shreyas Gopal caught the eye of the Rajasthan Royals bidding team at the 2018 IPL auction – and he may well catch the eyes of the viewing millions in the 2018 IPL tournament too! Karnataka player Gopal is an all-rounder who bats right-handed and bowls leg spin. He played three ODIs for India’s Under-19 cricket team in 2011 and falls in the category of ‘Royals rookie who could well go onto great things like many players before him’. You can be sure that the likes of Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Samson will have wise words for their new protégé in the 2018 campaign.
Gopal might even be a future Rajasthan Royals skipper. He captained Karnataka at age levels such as Under-13, Under-15, Under-16 and Under-19 and often displays a wise head on his young shoulders. Shreyas, who modelled his bowling action on Anil Kumble, made his first-class debut for Karnataka against Mumbai during the 2013-14 Ranji Season. Gopal came into the team as a middle-order batsman who could bowl leg spin, and ended up assuming the lead spinner’s role that season. He took 22 wickets at an average of 18.22, the best in the team, as Karnataka claimed the title. Gopal followed that successful campaign up with a hat-trick against the Rest of India in the Irani Cup. Impressed by his bowling, Mumbai Indians bought him for IPL 7 on the advice of Anil Kumble and he played in several matches. Shreyas is an impact bowler, more about spinning the ball a long way and surprising the batsmen with his extreme turn than relentless accuracy, so he often works best in short spells. His future might lie as a batting all rounder – his technically correct batsmanship, which brought him two hundreds in his second Ranji Trophy season, is often a joy to behold. Seeing him out in the middle for the Royals in the company of Rahane could be a purists’ delight!