Interview: KPL record-setter Nikin Jose eyes a spot in India Under-19 team

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A consistent performer in Karnataka's age group tournaments, 15-year-old batsman SJ Nikin Jose made headlines on Thursday (September 17) by setting records in the Karnataka Premier League (KPL) 2015.

Nikin, a Class 10 student of St. Joseph's Central School, Vijayanagar (Mysuru), created KPL history on "Ganesh Chaturthi" festival at the Srikantadatta Narasimha Raja Wadiyar ground in Mysuru.

Nikin gets an award during Save The Tiger Cup

With bowling figures of 6/11 for Mysuru Warriors, Nikin achieved what no other bowler had done in 4 editions of the league. Before, this he had hit a 18-ball 25 in the same match, against Rockstars.

Known for his batting, opener Nikin surprised all with his off-spin in KPL debut. At 15 years, he is also the youngest to play in KPL.

Making his mark in Under-14, Under-16 and Under-19 tournaments, Nikin achieved instant fame with his KPL performance, which was beamed across the globe by "Sony SIX" TV channel.

Despite his records on Thursday, Nikin is focused on his immediate goal, which is to make the India Under-19 squad.

"My target this year is to play for India Under-19s. I am working hard to achieve this goal," a confident Nikin told OneIndia.

Nikin, who's father Peter John is a Physical Education teacher, said it was because of his dad that he took up cricket at a very young age.

"My love for cricket started very early. I started playing as a 4-year-old. It was due to my father that I began playing the game. He is my inspiration to take up the sport," he said.

With constant encouragement from his parents (his mother is a food scientist at Central Food Technological Research Institute - CFTRI Mysuru), Nikin has managed to balance both cricket and studies well.

Picked at this year's KPL Players Auction for Rs 10,000, Nikin was extremely happy to have been just a part of the Twenty20 tournament.

Nikin gets an award during Save The Tiger Cup

"I am fortunate to have been a part of KPL. I was really excited and happy when I was picked in the auction. I just wanted to be there.

"In a tournament like KPL you need to be alert each and every ball. There is no time to relax. T20 is such a format that anything can happen any moment," he explained.

About his KPL dream debut, he reveals that he was not aware of playing till moments before the coin toss. "I was not aware till the last moment that I would be playing. I got to know only 10 minutes before the toss.

"I thank the Mysuru Warriors team for giving me an opportunity this year and hope to be a part of the team next year as well."

Ask him about the interaction with seniors in KPL, he says, "Thanks to KPL, I was able to interact with players like Manish Pandey and CM Gautam. Their guidance was valuable. It will help me a lot."

Mysuru Warriors' coach RX Muralidhar heaped praise on the youngster, calling him "far superior" than others in the 15-year age group.

"Nikin is very good. Skill-wise he is better than other 15-year-olds. And the big advantage for him is that he is mentally very strong than other cricketers of his age. I would say he is far superior than many other 15-year-olds," the coach said.

"He is in a good space at the moment. He is not overawed by any situation. He knows how to make the right choice on the field (during a match).

"There are certain qualities in a player which makes him outstanding compared to other good cricketers. And Nikin is such a cricketer," he added.

Nikin gets an award during Save The Tiger Cup

The coach said they were keen to buy Nikin at the players auction. "At the players auction, we made a conscious effort to pick Nikin. Our owner Mr. Arjun Ranga was keen to have him in the squad. He wanted to encourage his talent," Muralidhar, who took Warriors to the KPL title, said.

Warriors did not have a good tournament this year. They failed to make the play-offs and according to the coach, "anxiety" and "fear of failure" resulted in their downfall.

"The tournament did not go well at all. We had a young and amazing team and they all wanted to prove a point. I would say the fear of failure set in. Our fielding was a big letdown. Dropping 23 catches in the tournament did not help at all," he said.

When queried whether youngsters like Nikin should be allowed to play T20s, Muralidhar feels it is not wrong to take up the shortest format.

"It is a misconception (T20s ruining techniques). I would say withouth technique it is not possible to succeed in T20. Those who have succeeded in the format are good cricketers. Without technique you can't survive."

Nikin gets an award during Save The Tiger Cup

Facts on SK Nikin Jose

Born: 21 August, 2000

Right-hand opening batsman

Place: Mysuru (Parents hail from Tamil Nadu)

Coach: Surender. 1st coach: Gadhadhar

Club: Jawahar Sports Club, Bengaluru

Highlights of his career so far

# 6/11 - Best bowling in KPL history

# Won Man-of-the-match award in his debut KPL game

# Youngest ever to play a KPL game

# "Best Batsman" award at Karnataka State Cricket Association's (KSCA) annual awards 2013-14

# Captained Karnataka in Under-16 Vijay Merchant Trophy

# Led Karnataka to Vijay Merchant Trophy win (South Zone) in November, 2014. Scored 461 runs in the tournament

# Part of Karnataka Under-19 team for Inter-zonal (South Zone) Vinoo Mankad Trophy (One Dayers) last December

# Represented Mysore Zone (Under-14, Under-16)

# Won "Tiger of the tournament" title at "Save The Tiger Cup"

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