Learnt watching Warne videos, says Nagaland’s teenage spin sensation

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Nagaland’s 16-year-old leg spinner Khrievitso Kense has been a point of discussion among the cricketing fraternity of the country in the last several days. Kense, a carpenter’s son from Sovima village near Dimapur, is the youngest Indian players to feature in the list of players for auction for cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL).

But how this teenager has reached this far with very limited facilities in a state like Nagaland?

“I was initially bowling off-spin. But my fingers started paining. Then I tried leg-spin.  I didn’t have anyone to coach me. So I followed Shane Warne on TV and phone,” Kense was quoted as saying by PTI in an interview.

Currently, he is in quarantine in Chennai ahead of the Vijay Hazare Trophy which starts on February 18.

He has a base price of Rs 20 lakh and the buzz is that both the Mumbai Indians and the Rajasthan Royals are eyeing the youngest player in an auction pool of 292. He turns 17 on March 6.

“I never had a leg-spin coach, I learnt all by myself. There was a sir who would just guide me as I played U-16 cricket,” he said.

With the help of a local coach, Kense got to play at the U-16 level and made everyone sit up and notice his skills with a five-wicket haul on debut against Uttar Pradesh in a Vijay Merchant Trophy’s 2018-19 pre-quarterfinal.

Nagaland senior team captain Rongsen Jonathan and his deputy Hokaito Zhimomi then called him for senior camp last year where he grabbed the attention of state coach Kanwaljit Singh, a former Hyderabad off-spinner who’s with the team for more than three years.

He was called by Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals for trials last month before being included in the 292-strong IPL 2021 auction list.

Now with the buzz ahead of the auction which takes place February 18, Kense is not at all worried or thinking over it.

“I am ‘bindaas’ (carefree) and not thinking much about the auction. The team supports me well and yes we will watch it (the auction) together,” the Nagaland boy said.

Nagaland coach Kanwaljit says: “He really impressed me with his trajectory which is ideally suited for any format of the game. For a kid of his age, he also showed very good control and hardly bowled any loose deliveries. It was exceptional.”

Nagaland vice-captain Hokaito Zhimomi who was part of Kolkata Knight Riders during the initial IPL days, says that if picked by some franchise, it will be a revolution in the state.

“Now we all are excited for him. He is doing well and fingers crossed if he makes it then he will start a revolution here and many more will follow. We have many talented cricketers and it will create good and healthy competition. I hope he achieves what I could not,” Hokaito reckoned.

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