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.

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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].

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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.

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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)