Ranji Trophy: Is anyone watching Jalaj Saxena?

No other contemporary domestic cricketer has done so much for his team and received so little from the selectors.

Jalaj Saxena (R) has been in rousing form with both the bat and ball for Kerala this season.   -  B. Jothi Ramalingam

Amid darkness and despair, Jalaj Saxena sees motes of light.

Yoga and meditation help the soft-spoken man from Indore retain his equanimity and desire. And his passion for cricket fires him up.

No other contemporary domestic cricketer has done so much for his team and received so little from the selectors.

Staggering numbers

The 31-year-old off-spinning all-rounder’s numbers are staggering. In the 2015-16 Ranji season, he notched up 588 runs and took 49 wickets.

And in 2017-18, he made 522 Ranji runs and claimed 44 wickets, the most by any bowler for the season.

In the last four years, he has won BCCI’s Best all-rounder award for domestic cricket thrice and was adjudged the Best bowler once.

Yet, he has played precious little for India ‘A’ or the Board teams against visiting teams. In a rare opportunity, against the Australians in Chennai, 2013, Jajaj came up with a four-wicket innings haul. Then, he was forgotten again.

Kerala's match-winner

Despite the setbacks, he rolls on, churning out match-winning performances. Jalaj, predictably, has been in rousing form for Kerala this season.

A knock of 133 opening the innings and an innings haul of eight for 45 ambushed Andhra at Thiruvananthapuram. Then, he produced a combative 143 against Bengal on a seaming track at the Eden Gardens.

Saxena has come up with crucial knocks in the ongoing Ranji Trophy. - SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

 

The man who plays league cricket in the TNCA first division - he represented Young Stars for two years before being roped in by Jolly Rovers this season - is looking forward to the upcoming Tamil Nadu-Kerala Ranji duel beginning Thursday.

On Tamil Nadu cricket

“The league here has made a big difference to my cricket. It is competitive, excellently run, and you get to learn and contribute a lot,” Jalaj told Sportstar on Tuesday.

Talking about Tamil Nadu, Jalaj said, “They have not had a good run in the first half of the season but everyone knows Tamil Nadu is a very good side. The experience of having played here will help me.”

Looking at his bowling - he has an easy, high-arm action - Jalaj said, “My stock delivery, the off-spinner, is my strength. Only then come the variations.”

He added, “And as a top-order batsman I like playing my strokes. I also strive to construct an innings.”

Jalaj’s workload as Kerala’s opener and its leading spinner is heavy and he has been working hard on fitness. “My Yo-Yo score is 17 plus,” he said.

And he continues to build monuments with the bat and the ball. Is anyone watching?