Interview with Jalaj Saxena: "The level of cricket in the Dhaka Premier League is high"
The Dhaka Premier League, a long-standing List-A tournament that has been in place in Bangladesh since the 1970s. A number of players like Yusuf Pathan, Manoj Tiwary, Dinesh Karthik, who were once part of the national setup are plying their trade in the league.
Jalaj Saxena, one of the stalwarts of the Madhya Pradesh team, has been one of the most consistent performers for the Ranji side. In the last four seasons (2012-13 to 2015-16) he has amassed 2485 runs at an average of 46.89 with the bat, including six tons and 12 half-centuries. With his off spin, he has scalped 111 wickets at 26.01. He was awarded the Lala Amarnath award for best all-round performance last season. The 29-year-old has also represented India A, and was a part of the Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians squads as well. He played for Legends of Rupganj in this edition of the Dhaka Premier League.
In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, he speaks about his all-round skills, the Dhaka Premier League, and his dream of playing for the country.
SK. You have been performing consistently in the domestic circuit and were recently awarded the Lala Amarnath award. What keeps you motivated for this?
JS: Playing the game is the biggest motivation. I love playing cricket and have loved doing it since childhood. Be it batting or bowling, irrespective of the format I try to give my best.
SK: How do you describe yourself? Are you a batting or a bowling all-rounder? And what is the role of a spinner in T20s?
JS: I love doing both whether it is batting or bowling. As a kid, I dreamt of becoming an all-rounder, so I am glad that I do that. Spinners play a crucial role in T20s, as they present a wicket-taking option for the team. Irrespective of the format, they are effective, whether it is an off-spinner or a leg-spinner.
(On the Champions League T20) I got limited chances, but I did my best in whatever opportunities I got. The tournament was a great learning experience and gave me a lot of exposure.
SK: What made you decide on playing the Dhaka Premier League?
JS: I wasn’t selected for the IPL, so I was looking for other opportunities where I could play the game. I got a call from someone asking if I would like to participate in the Dhaka Premier League, and I accepted the offer.
It is a very good tournament where the level of cricket is high and the conditions are also challenging. My brother (Jatin Saxena, also a first-class cricketer) is also playing there and performing well.
SK: Why do you think players from Madhya Pradesh are not getting more chances for the national side? Do you think it is just coincidence, or there is some other reason?
JS: There are a lot of opportunities for youngsters from Madhya Pradesh, and the newer players are performing really well. We reached the semifinals this time, and the younger players like Aditya Srivastava have been instrumental in that.
The best part is that most of the players, like Devendra Bundela and Naman Ojha are from the state itself. We have 11-12 players who are from the state, and that is a good sign for youngsters.
I wouldn’t comment (on the bias), but it is disappointing and I do hope that more players get to play from Madhya Pradesh in the future.
SK: What about playing for India? Despite playing for India A, you haven’t made the cut to the national side. How do you feel about that?
JS: I am obviously disappointed that I am not able to get into the national side. But then, selection is not in my hands. I need to keep improving my skills and enjoy playing the game. I have always dreamt of playing for India, and I am committed to doing that.