Kohima: In a region where football is considered a religion, sportspersons like Jonathan Rongsen come as a pleasant surprise.
The 32-year-old cricketer, a native of Akhoya village in Mokokchung district of Nagaland, has already scored three consecutive centuries in the ongoing season of Ranji Trophy, a domestic first-class cricket championship played in India between teams representing regional and state cricket associations.
The captain of the Nagaland team, which made its Ranji Trophy debut this season, scored a brilliant 123 run against Puducherry, 131 runs against Arunachal Pradesh and 100 runs against Bihar.
Rongsen also led the Nagaland senior cricket team into first-class cricket winning five of the eight matches in the Vijay Hazare Trophy in Gujarat.
As a boy, Rongsen always dreamed of becoming an engineer. Unaware of what destiny had for him, he realised his talent in cricket when he was selected to play for the school team while he was in the sixth standard.
Speaking to EastMojo, Rongsen said: “My role model and favourite cricketer is Sachin Tendulkar. Once upon a time, he was a lone soldier fighting for India and there was a time when if u got Sachin out, the match was lost."
While the Naga skipper made his debut in fist-class cricket in the 2013–14 Ranji Trophy on December 6, 2013 playing for Railways in Karnataka, he is currently playing for Nagaland in the ongoing Ranji trophy 2018-19.
Talking about his choice of cricket format, Rongsen said: “As a professional cricketer, the toughest for me is Test cricket. It really challenges the individual as a cricketer. ODI and T20 are a fun part of it, but the real cricket is Test cricket."
Interestingly, the skipper, who wouldn’t miss his chance in any game that he plays for, prefers to “sit like a vegetable in the couch and drink lots of water and relax” whenever he’s free.
Rongsen opines that while football is a popular sport among the Nagas, cricket, on the other hand, is also gaining significance with the advent of multiple cricket series.
As a message to the upcoming cricketers in the state, he said: “If you want to improve cricket or play cricket, the road is open now. Ranji Trophy is here. If you’re good enough to show your talent, then we’re always here to watch and if you’re good enough we’ll take you.”
Talking about his way forward, Rongsen said: “My ultimate goal is to play for India one day or maybe play in the IPL really soon.”