IPL 2019: Jalaj Saxena closer to his dreams

The Indore-born cricketer is 32, and the poetic approach towards life helps him protect the ultimate dream — to play cricket for India. He could be a step closer as Delhi Capitals lapped him up for IPL 2019.

Jalaj Saxena with coach Dav Whatmore during a training session ahead of an encounter against Punjab at the Ranji Trophy in Mohali on December 29, 2018. (FILE IMAGE)   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Jalaj Saxena is a thinking cricketer. He is somebody who trusts his instincts. And when not playing cricket, he goes out soul searching with a digital camera. He captures the real to reel and feels a nirvana while conversing with seasonal birds and listening to the bees. 

The Indore-born cricketer is 32, and the poetic approach towards life helps him protect the ultimate dream — to play cricket for India. He could be a step closer as Delhi Capitals lapped him up for IPL 2019. 

In the past, Mumbai Indians had also taken him in but he didn’t get a game in the star-studded side. Delhi, though filled with popular names, could still offer him a breakthrough on the back of an impressive domestic season — 551 runs [two hundreds and two fifties] in the Ranji Trophy with 28 wickets and the India A tag. 

Saxena, a veteran of 111 first-class games, opened up to Sportstar on his long domestic career and the new IPL break.

What has kept you motivated for so many years? You are over 100 first-class games but you are yet to play for India…

My biggest motivation is to play for the country. That keeps me going. I still have a firm belief that I will play for India, and IPL is a great platform. It is a good opportunity, specially after my India A stint. If I do well here, I am sure I will play for the country. I have changed my state [Madhya Pradesh to Kerala], I have got BCCI awards but I have never lost my focus, though I wasn’t getting chances.

READ: The Vidarbha cricket nursery

How has the India A experience been?

I joined the team on a very quick note this time. I didn’t spend much time there, but India A is a very good platform to start. Rahul Dravid is a professional coach. It is a great setup. When you go there with an aim to represent your country, you notice a lot of changes that happen within you. 

What has been your gains playing for Kerala in the domestic season?

I knew if I went to a smaller state and keep performing like I was doing in MP, take the state to another level, I could get some recognition. When I changed states, there was a lot of pressure to perform as I was playing as a professional player for Kerala. One thing I learnt is that my performance gets better when a challenge is thrown at me. If someone gives me responsibility, I will come out better.

You will also reunite with Ricky Ponting [former MI coach] in Delhi Capitals. What does he bring to the table?   

I am really excited to meet him. I have great memories from the MI camp. He is a professional guy with brilliant work ethics. He always told me about the fitness, body language and fielding. Ponting was a very fit player [in his time].

ALSO READ: That unconditional love called cricket

After the MI sessions, I started taking fitness seriously. These days, I bowl 30 overs for Kerala and I straight away go and open the innings. It wouldn’t have happened had I not listened to him then. 

And you are also a nature lover and a photographer; it must help you maintain the sane head and keep off pressure...

Yes, that helps. I feel an inner happiness when I go for long drives and cycling. With the camera, you can shoot the rising run, the birds that fly early in the morning which you won’t see later in the day.



In the off-season, Jalaj Saxena often goes cycling and he captures landscapes, birds and skylines.   -  Jalaj Saxena

The shades of plants look different in the morning too. There are so many things to capture with the camera.

(The above photographs are clicked by Jalaj Saxena)

Support Sportstar

Dear Reader,

Support our journalism — where text and pictures intermingle so seamlessly — and help us scale up your experience as the world changes around us. Your contribution is vital to our brand of uninfluenced, boots-on-the-ground reportage that’s worth your while. Clickbait sensationalism is not for us, but editorial independence is — we owe it to you.

  Dugout videos