Jalaj Saxena: Kerala's Mr. Dependable

Ever been in a situation where you’re giving more than your 100% not for yourself, but for a team project at work? That’s pretty much every match-day in Jalaj Saxena’s life when he’s on a Ranji Trophy assignment. A total workhorse when it comes to bowling, and one of the batting pillars of the side, his contribution has brought about a marked difference to his team. The 32 year old all-rounder hails from Indore in Madhya Pradesh, but for the last couple of seasons has been feeling very much at home in Kerala – the team he represents.

Kerala had qualified for the quarter-final last year, and stakes were surely higher this time. Jalaj kick-started this season with a promising half-century, making his intent clear. His steady 57 set the stage for the Kerala middle-order in their season opener against Hyderabad. With a gigantic first-innings score of 495, Kerala secured a draw.

However, Jalaj’s temperament was tested in the following fixture against Andhra. The Thiruvananthapuram wicket was a tough one to bat on, and Andhra notched up 254. Though the batting conditions improved when Jalaj came out to open, he was already fatigued, as he had to open the innings after having bowled for 30 overs. There was no option to take up the challenge head-on, as he smashed a superb 133 to give his team lead. Jalaj excelled with the ball too, with 8 wickets from his 20 overs. An easy 42 runs to chase down gave Kerala their first win of the season, and no points for guessing who ended as Man of the Match!

In Kolkata, for their next game, Jalaj picked up from he’d left, notching up a superb match winning 143 even when the rest of the batsmen failed. It’s after the two wins that the going got tough, and Kerala lost against Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh.

Next up was Delhi, and Kerala needed their Mr Dependable to deliver yet again. The season’s fatigue was beginning to take its toll on Jalaj, but despite that, he played a gritty knock of 68, and bowled full time, dismissing 6 batsmen. Delhi was made to follow on, and ended up with an innings defeat. Once again, Jalaj Saxena proved to be the difference between the two sides with his 68 and 9 for 88, as he bagged his third Man of the Match of the season.

The performer, for whom the toil never ends, took a well-deserved break in the do-or-die against Himachal Pradesh. As Kerala won, and entered their second successive Ranji Trophy quarter-final, the stage was set for Jalaj to deliver yet again.

Adversity decides the credibility of knocks, and Jalaj’s knock in the quarter-final against Gujarat was undoubtedly his best of the season. Uneven bounce troubled batsmen from both sides on the Wayanad pitch, and the match remained a low scorer. While surviving on the pitch became the primary challenge, Jalaj notched up a crucial 44* batting 5-down in the third innings. Kerala walked into the semi-finals of Ranji Trophy for the first time. “It was one of the toughest wickets I have played on. I got hit on the helmet, on the thighs, the gloves,” Jalaj later revealed to Indian Express.

551 runs, 28 wickets, 9 matches – numbers do tell you a story, but they often miss out on what is it that drives an individual to achieve those numbers. For Jalaj Saxena, it’s pure hunger, and the will to do better than before – a quality that the Delhi Capitals will only treasure, to say the least, as the team looks to turn a new leaf this season.

Jalaj Saxena: Kerala's Mr. Dependable

Ever been in a situation where you’re giving more than your 100% not for yourself, but for a team project at work? That’s pretty much every match-day in Jalaj Saxena’s life when he’s on a Ranji Trophy assignment. A total workhorse when it comes to bowling, and one of the batting pillars of the side, his contribution has brought about a marked difference to his team. The 32 year old all-rounder hails from Indore in Madhya Pradesh, but for the last couple of seasons has been feeling very much at home in Kerala – the team he represents.

Kerala had qualified for the quarter-final last year, and stakes were surely higher this time. Jalaj kick-started this season with a promising half-century, making his intent clear. His steady 57 set the stage for the Kerala middle-order in their season opener against Hyderabad. With a gigantic first-innings score of 495, Kerala secured a draw.

However, Jalaj’s temperament was tested in the following fixture against Andhra. The Thiruvananthapuram wicket was a tough one to bat on, and Andhra notched up 254. Though the batting conditions improved when Jalaj came out to open, he was already fatigued, as he had to open the innings after having bowled for 30 overs. There was no option to take up the challenge head-on, as he smashed a superb 133 to give his team lead. Jalaj excelled with the ball too, with 8 wickets from his 20 overs. An easy 42 runs to chase down gave Kerala their first win of the season, and no points for guessing who ended as Man of the Match!

In Kolkata, for their next game, Jalaj picked up from he’d left, notching up a superb match winning 143 even when the rest of the batsmen failed. It’s after the two wins that the going got tough, and Kerala lost against Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh.

Next up was Delhi, and Kerala needed their Mr Dependable to deliver yet again. The season’s fatigue was beginning to take its toll on Jalaj, but despite that, he played a gritty knock of 68, and bowled full time, dismissing 6 batsmen. Delhi was made to follow on, and ended up with an innings defeat. Once again, Jalaj Saxena proved to be the difference between the two sides with his 68 and 9 for 88, as he bagged his third Man of the Match of the season.

The performer, for whom the toil never ends, took a well-deserved break in the do-or-die against Himachal Pradesh. As Kerala won, and entered their second successive Ranji Trophy quarter-final, the stage was set for Jalaj to deliver yet again.

Adversity decides the credibility of knocks, and Jalaj’s knock in the quarter-final against Gujarat was undoubtedly his best of the season. Uneven bounce troubled batsmen from both sides on the Wayanad pitch, and the match remained a low scorer. While surviving on the pitch became the primary challenge, Jalaj notched up a crucial 44* batting 5-down in the third innings. Kerala walked into the semi-finals of Ranji Trophy for the first time. “It was one of the toughest wickets I have played on. I got hit on the helmet, on the thighs, the gloves,” Jalaj later revealed to Indian Express.

551 runs, 28 wickets, 9 matches – numbers do tell you a story, but they often miss out on what is it that drives an individual to achieve those numbers. For Jalaj Saxena, it’s pure hunger, and the will to do better than before – a quality that the Delhi Capitals will only treasure, to say the least, as the team looks to turn a new leaf this season.

Your Comments

Fixtures

Standings