That elusive opportunity finally arrived Jalaj Saxena’s doorsteps as he made his Indian Premier League (IPL) debut aged 34 this Sunday (April 18) for Punjab Kings (PBKS).
Saxena, one of the finest performers in the Indian domestic scene, featured in the PBKS playing XI for their third match of the IPL 2021 against Delhi Capitals (DC) in Mumbai.
Jalaj Saxena won his first IPL contract back in 2013 when Mumbai Indians (MI) picked him. But the cricketer had to wait until another eight years, including stints on the fringes with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Delhi Capitals (DC) as well, to make his IPL debut.
Jalaj Saxena was picked as a replacement of leg-spinner Murugan Ashwin in the PBKS playing XI after the franchise roped him in at the IPL 2021 auction in February for a sum of INR 30 lakhs.
Wait Over For Jalaj Saxena As He Makes IPL Debut For Punjab Kings (PBKS)
Jalaj Saxena, veteran right-hand batter and right-arm off-break bowler for Kerala, has piled on an impressive record to his name at the domestic level without ever really being recognised for higher honours.
The earnest cricketer has been part of the Central Zone and India A squads previously but hasn’t ever been considered for senior Indian team selection strangely.
While the national selectors may have had their own reasons to look past Jalaj Saxena all these years, the cricketer himself hasn’t given up on his dream to represent India and has been working hard and performing consistently in domestic tournaments.
Jalaj Saxena has played 123 first-class games with 6,334 runs at an average of 35.98 and 347 wickets at 27.17 per piece. In List A cricket, where he has played 99 matches, Saxena has taken 116 wickets while going for only 4.41 runs per over and chipping in with useful runs with the bat.
In T20 domestically, Saxena has been one of the more miser bowlers around, with an economy rate of just 6.84 across 59 matches. During the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament which preceded Saxena’s auction bid by PBKS, he took 10 wickets from 5 outings while conceding only 6.26 runs per over to strengthen his case for a potential IPL debut.
Playing for PBKS is a reward for years of hardwork by Jalaj Saxena, whose career has been spent fighting all odds, overcoming difficulties and performing consistently without people noticing.