A genuine all-rounder, Jalaj Saxena’s failure to make it big at the international level is one of the curious cases in contemporary Indian cricket.
But this 31-year-old has soldiered on brilliantly ever since he made his debut for home State — Madhya Pradesh — in 2005 and again for Kerala through the past two seasons.
Needless to say, his impressive showing with both bat and ball was one of the key factors behind Kerala's maiden quarterfinal appearance in the Ranji Trophy last year.
Saxena scored an astounding 535 runs and scalped 44 wickets to emerge as the leading wicket-taker before Kerala fell to Vidharbha in the round-of-last-eight. He was flexible about his batting order and was incisive with the ball, extracting purchase even from a docile wicket.
Ahead of the 2018-19 Ranji season, Saxena said, “I would not like to set targets for myself before the start of a season, but remaining focused on doing the best for my side will be the aim,” Saxena told Sportstar on Thursday.
“In the first year, I was unable to do much because of being sidelined due to an injury. But in the last season, I really enjoyed being with the side, learning a lot from my teammates.
“The team has exciting stroke makers and has the potential to make it to the next level. However, the key mantra is consistency and I am sure that together, we will be able to make it to the knockout stage.
"Our group is quite tough, but if we are able to get into the groove and maintain the momentum, then nothing is impossible.”