New Delhi: Kerala all-rounder Jalaj Saxena is now among the 19 Indian cricketers to have achieved a rare milestone in domestic cricket. He has scored over 6000 runs and dismissed more than 300 batsmen. But his ultimate dream remains to play for Team India.
Playing for India Blue, Saxena achieved the feat in Duleep Trophy after clinching 3/57 against India Red. He reached 300 wickets in the process.
“My dream is to play for the country and I am putting my 100 percent towards it. I believe one day I will play for India and that thought keeps me going,” said the Indore-born cricketer in a telephonic interview with The Sunday Guardian.
Saxena has played 113 first-class matches with 6,044 runs in his kitty, scalping 305 wickets. His name is now enlisted with the all-rounder greats in the country.
“It’s a moment of pride for me. I still cannot believe that my name is listed with legends like Kapil Dev, Ravi Shastri, Vijay Hazare, C.K. Naidu and Lala Amarnath,” the right-handed batsman said.
He is now 32-years-old and is the only player who has not represented India despite what the numbers reflect.
The all-rounder, who started his career in Madhya Pradesh, later shifted his base to Kerala for better opportunities.
Saxena was bought by Delhi Capitals this year but did not feature in the playing eleven for the entire season. However, practicing under the wings of Ricky Ponting and Sourav Ganguly has raised his cricketing skills.
“They are legends for me. It is a dream come true to be mentored by (Ricky) Ponting and (Sourav) Ganguly. I still remember Sourav sir appreciated me when he saw my innings in Bengal where I scored a hundred against the likes of (Ashok) Dinda and (Mohammed) Shami on a difficult track. And that definitely boosted my confidence and I gained a lot of self-belief. I think Delhi Capitals is a bunch of highly talented people and it’s a very good combination of youth and experience. The dressing room is always lively and full of positive vibes,” he said.
Asked what inspired him during the early days of his career, he said, “Sports runs in the family for me. My father was a swimmer; my brother is a first class cricketer and an IPL player. Growing up, I always looked up to my brother and took interest in the sport because of him.
“I am a person who believes in continuous improvement of my skills and fitness and that is all I work towards.”
Saxena has won Lala Amarnath award for the best all-rounder in Ranji Trophy for the last four years.
On being asked who, according to him, is currently the best all-rounder in the country, he said, “I think Ravindra Jadeja is the best all-rounder in the Indian team right now.”
Other Indian players who have scored 6000 runs and taken 300 wickets are:
Kapil Dev, Ravi Shastri, Manoj Prabhakar, Madan Lal, Sanjay Bangar, Sairaj Bahutule, S Abid Ali, S Venkataraghavan, Salim Durani, ML Jaisimha, Chandu Sarwate, Polly Umrigar, Bapu Nadkarni, Chandu Borde, CK Nayudu, Jalaj Saxena.