Jalaj Saxena: Kerala on a high after good show in Syed Mushtaq Ali

Kerala all-rounder Jalaj Saxena, currently in the state team camp at Wayanad, also praised Sanju Samson's captaincy in the T20 format.

Jalaj Saxena is one of the few all-rounders with 6,000+ runs and 300 wickets.   -  M. R. Praveen Chandran

Kerala all-rounder Jalaj Saxena is disappointed that there will be no Ranji Trophy this season.

“When I read some media reports that the Ranji Trophy was very much on the cards, I began to look forward to it, so it was disappointing to learn that the tournament would not be held this season,” Jalaj told Sportstar over phone from Krishnagiri, Wayanad, on Saturday.

“Since my aim is to play Test cricket, Ranji Trophy is very important to me.”

He, however, added that it was understandable the BCCI took the decision due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It is nice though that we will at least have the Vijay Hazare Trophy one-day tournament. After the good show at the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament in Mumbai, the entire Kerala team is confident of doing well at the one-day tourney too.”

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Kerala is currently camping in Krishnagiri. “It is nice to be back here in Wayanad, after playing for India A against England Lions in the unofficial Test two years ago. The camp is going on well under our coach Tinu Yohannan, who is sincere and works hard with every player," he said.

Jalaj, one of the few all-rounders in the present-day First Class cricket to have scored more than 6,000 runs besides claiming 300 wickets, said he enjoyed playing under Sanju Samson in the T20 competition. “Sanju could turn out to be an excellent captain, both for Kerala and Rajasthan Royals,” he said. “The captaincy could help his batting, too.”

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Looking back at Kerala's campaign, he said winning against giants like Mumbai and Delhi in successive matches was great. “And what an innings Mohammed Azharuddeen played against Mumbaii! It is one of the best knocks I have ever seen. I hope Azhar gets picked by an IPL franchise this season, and if he does, I am sure he will perform.”

Jalaj had taken 10 wickets from five matches in the competition. It was evident that he had been working on adding more variety to his bowling. “Though I had been wanting to try out new things I hadn't got the time in the past, but during the lockdown I was staying with my brother Jatin (who is also a First Class cricketer) at Bhilai and we practised with the tennis ball for some three hours every day. So I could try out the carrom and the reverse carrom balls.”