Chikkamagaluru boy set for T20WC debut with US team

Nostusha Pradeep Kenjige is a US citizen by birth though his parents moved back to India immediately after he was born.
Last Updated : 09 May 2024, 14:35 IST
Last Updated : 09 May 2024, 14:35 IST

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Bengaluru: Pradeep Kenjige's decision to move to Alabama to pursue his Masters in agriculture in the late 80s stemmed, quite possibly, from his desire to update his coffee estate back home in Chikkamagaluru. 

Done with the course, Pradeep and his wife Keerthi decided to board a flight back to India, a fairly standard practice for progressive estate owners. Surely though, the decision to return was fast-tracked because they were now with a child. 

At only two-months-old, Nosthusha was transported to his native home. 

Twenty-five years later, Nosthusha - an American citizen by birth - returned to the United States to work as a biological technician. 

Two years later, he made his international debut for the United States as a professional cricketer. 

A little over a month from now, he will be playing against India at the T20 World Cup in New York. 

Interspersed between these events is where Nostusha’s story really is because even as his love for cricket waxed and waned, his skills as a left-arm spinner didn’t desert him.  

While schooling in Lawrence School Lovedale in Nilgiris, Nostusha entertained the sport not as casually as the rest, so during vacations he would travel to Bengaluru and shack up in a PG to train at the Karnataka Institute of Cricket.

Through with school, he made a full-time move to Bengaluru to pursue cricket while studying at the Dayanand Sagar College of Engineering. 

“I played league cricket here, and I had good performances but I didn’t make it to the State side,” he tells DH. “Slowly, I lost interest in cricket because I was so exhausted. I decided to give up on cricket and do something else.”

And so, he moved to Virginia and then to New York for a steady pay cheque. 

“Personally, I never thought I would play cricket again, and it was good because I realised there is a life outside cricket, but you begin to feel a bit paranoid when you’re not playing, especially since your friends are cricketers and you’re watching cricket all the time. You feel like you’re missing out on something,” he says. “Also, I was at work but my head was not in it (that could explain why he was fired from a couple of jobs!), I didn’t feel like I had a purpose anymore so I decided to go for trials in 2016-17.”

Having made himself eligible to play for the country by doing community service for 800 hours, which involved teaching cricket to youngsters, Nostusha was now part of the 30-man squad. 

In 2019, the year the US team was granted ODI status, he made his international debut against the United Arab Emirates. He moved to Dallas after getting his contract. 

Since then, he has played 40 One-Day Internationals for 38 scalps and four Twenty20 Internationals for as many wickets. He has also played in the International League T20 and Major League Cricket for Mumbai. That association with the team allowed him to turn up as a ‘net’ bowler for the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League. 

“When I was growing up here, I obviously grew up wanting to play for India. That didn’t happen so I closed the chapter, but another chapter has opened up. That’s the beauty of cricket, when you take care of cricket, cricket takes care of you,” he philosophises.

“First you want to play for India, but if you can’t, the next best thing is to play against them (laughs).”

He will have his chance on June 12. It is likely to be one-sided, but Nostusha is a cricketer so he is bound to believe in upsets. 

“See, we don’t have the baggage or the expectations like the Indian team does. No one expects us to win, and that gives us the freedom to play however we want. If on that day things happen to click then you never know,” he says.

This level of optimism is expected from Nostusha. After all, he didn’t get picked for the State at any age group level, and yet, here he is, playing international cricket against the best in the world.

Published 09 May 2024, 14:35 IST

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