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Who is Jalaj Saxena? Snubbed domestic veteran comes into focus after historic performance for Kerala

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37-year-old Jalaj Saxena on Sunday created history in India’s domestic cricket. The veteran picked 9/68 which is the second-best bowling figure for Kerala. Amarjith Singh with 9/45 vs Andhra in 1971 is still the best for the state from down south.

For ardent cricket fans, Jalaj Saxena is a name that brings a mixture of sadness and anger. India’s selectors have time and again snubbed him for national duties despite his tall feats with the bat and ball.

Jalaj Saxena is a player who can open the innings as well as play in the middle order. With the ball, he has over 430 wickets in domestic cricket. So who is this Jalaj Saxena exactly? His career figures might leave you numbed.

Jalaj Saxena: India’s Greatest ‘What If’ Story

In a curious case of co-incidence, Jalaj Saxena made his domestic cricket debut for Madhya Pradesh against Kerala. His first game came in late 2005 just two days after he had turned 19 years old. Madhya Pradesh had a good mix of young players and experienced stars in their team. The likes of Abbas Ali and Devendra Bundela are domestic legends while Narendra Hirwani was a former India star. Naman Ojha was another player who was slowly rising through the ranks with the MP side. Jalaj Saxena scored 27 with the bat after being slotted in at number 8.

The next few years saw the rise of the talented youngster who showed promise with the bat and ball. It wasn’t long before Jalaj Saxena became a huge part of the Madhya Pradesh team with brimming talent. At a time when India was struggling to find a decent all-round talent, the selectors missed a trick. Irfan Pathan had started to stumble with his actions and had lost his pace and his place in the team. Yuvraj Singh after his ODI World Cup exploits in 2011 lost his way after his illness.

The cricketer from Indore kept going and piling on the runs and picking up wickets. Years of toil got him acclaim but sadly no selection to the blues was forthcoming. The closest he came to playing for the senior team was when he was part of the India A squad. After his impressive 2012 season where he scored 769 runs, a call-up to the India A team came about, during the tour match between Australia and the representative side, Saxena picked 5 wickets. One of his scalps included Usman Khawaja the Australian opener who is a very good player of spin. New Zealand also fell to the guile of Jalaj Saxena as he picked 6 for 103 against the touring side.

In 2016, Jalaj Saxena moved to Kerala and has played a huge role in their rise. What makes his situation even said is that he has played just one game in the IPL. During the 2021 season, Saxena played for PBKS vs Delhi Capitals. The veteran went wicketless and that was the end of his IPL stint as well.

Interestingly his older brother Jatin is also a cricketer and is currently playing in the Sri Lankan domestic circuit. In the twilight of his career, Jalaj Saxena will go down as the greatest ‘What if’ in Indian Cricket. With over 6600 runs in the longer format and 14 centuries, Jalaj Saxena will be a sad case study for future generations.

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Yashasvi Jaiswal witnesses huge rise in Test batting rankings, Ravindra Jadeja still the best all-rounder

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There have been massive changes in the world rankings after the conclusion of the 2nd Test between South Africa and New Zealand, and the third Test between India and England. The Indian players have climbed the rankings by huge margins. Yashasvi Jaiswal and Ravindra Jadeja have a massive gain in rankings and ratings among the batters and All Rounders respectively.  

Some of the players from NZ, SA, and England have also witnessed a change in rankings. Kane Williamson strengthened his position at the top of the rankings as he scored a hundred while chasing 267. Willaim O’Rourke became the first Kiwi bowler to claim nine wickets on Test debut. He rose to the 61st ranking among bowlers. David Bedingham of SA scored a hundred and became the 50th-ranked batter. 

Ben Duckett scored 153 in the first innings which helped him to gain 12 spots in the rankings to claim the 13th position among the batters. Mark Wood became the 21st-ranked bowler in the world for his brilliant performance with the ball. Despite not bowling a lot in Rajkot, Ashwin climbed up the ranking among the bowlers. The star spinner claimed his 500th Test wicket by dismissing Zack Crawley. 

Indians witness a rise in rankings

In the process, Ashwin became the 2nd ranked bowler. India now has two bowlers in the top, the first of such instances since 2017. Bumrah continues to be ranked number one among the bowlers. Rohit Sharma scored a hundred and raised his ranking. He is now ranked 12th among the batters. Shubman Gill climbed up by three spots to become the 35th-ranked batter in the world. 

Sarfaraz Khan and Dhruv Jurel broke into the top 100 among the batters with their performances with the bat. Jadeja shined both with the bat and with the ball. He achieved his career-best rating of 469 among the Test All-Rounders after scoring a hundred and claiming 7 wickets in the match. Jaiswal saw a massive rise in his rankings and is now the 15th-ranked batter in the world. 

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Uncapped India player Abhishek Sharma gets summoned in model Tania Singh’s suicide case

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Tania Singh, Abhishek Sharma
Tania Singh, Abhishek Sharma (Image Credit: Twitter)

Former India U19 cricketer Abhishek Sharma has reportedly been summoned by Surat Police about model Tania Singh’s suicide case. On February 20, she was found dead at her residence in Happy Elegance Apartment on Vesu Road, Surat. She had been pursuing fashion design and modeling for the past two years. The deceased died by suicide by hanging herself from the ceiling of her apartment.

Further reports suggest that the police suspect a love affair behind Tania’s suicide and are checking out the call details of her mobile. While doing so, her phone indicated her last messages and calls to Sharma. As per the police, she sent a few messages to the Sunrisers Hyderabad player in the IPL ahead of her death but to no avail. In the last many hours, a lot of photos of the duo have been surfacing on social media.

The police will interrogate the U19 World Cup 2018 winner as this case is a high profile nature. The police are considering the possibility of the duo having an affair with each other.

Abhishek Sharma’s IPL career and First Class Career in a nutshell

The left-hander, after winning the U19 World Cup winner six years back, made his IPL debut with the 2020 finalists, Delhi Capitals. After playing three games each in the 2018 and 2019 seasons and eight games each in 2020 and 2021, he switched to SRH in 2022. In the last couple of seasons, he has played 14 and 11 games respectively. In 47 games, the former India U19 player has 893 runs to his name. On the other hand, he plays for Punjab in the domestic cricket. After playing 24 red-ball games since 2017, he has 1071 runs to his name, 30.60 including one hundred.

Sunrisers Hyderabad

Retained Players: Abdul Samad, Abhishek Sharma, Aiden Markram, Anmolpreet Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Glenn Phillips, Heinrich Klaasen, Marco Jansen, Mayank Agarwal, Mayank Markande, Nitish Kumar Reddy, Rahul Tripathi, Sanvir Singh, Shahbaz Ahamad (T), T. Natarajan, Umran Malik, Upendra Singh Yadav, Washington Sundar

Signed during the auction: Pat Cummins, Travis Head, Jaydev Unadkat, Wanindu Hasaranga, Akash Singh, Jhathavedh Subramanyan

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WATCH: Mohammad Amir could not believe his eyes on Shaheen Afridi’s choice of picking cover drives of Babar Azam and Virat Kohli

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Mohammad Amir

Mohammad Amir and Shaheen Afridi were in an interview recently with Shoaib Malik. The two left-arm pacers were asked a lot of questions in general by Malik, who acted as a host to his former teammates. The show was entertaining as the players had a lot of fun. But one question was asked by Malik which has landed Pakistan’s T20 skipper in trouble. 

The former Pakistan batter asked the two pacers to pick one among Virat Kohli and Babar Azam in terms of their elegance to play the cover drive. For unknowns, cover drive is one of the most difficult shots to play. But when it comes off, it looks as elegant as the game itself. Many batters in the past were known for their cover drives. Ian Bell and Damien Martyn are to name a few. 

Watch the video of the interview here:

But Malik put two of his teammates under test as he asked to pick only one among Virat and Babar. Amir was quick to claim that Virat had the better cover drive among the two. On the other hand, Afridi took the side of his former skipper. Amir was in shock by seeing at the opinion of the current Pakistan skipper in T20Is.  

Fans unhappy with Shaheen Afridi’s opinion

He looked at Afridi and gave an expression as if asking “Seriously!?’. But Shaheen was unmoved and stayed with his opinion. Amir could not believe that Shaheen backed Babar to be the better driver of the ball than Virat. The video of the interview has gone viral, and the fans are not happy with Shaheen picking his former Pakistan skipper over the former Indian captain.  

The fans also appreciated Amir for being honest in his assessment of the two batters. Shaheen is one of the fewest batters to claim Babar to have a better cover drive than Virat. Many star cricketers and former cricketers have rated Kohli to possess a better cover drive than his Pakistan contemporary. The star players are likely to face each other in the T20 WC 2024 later this year.  

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