As the players headed to the pavilion for lunch during the Kerala-Services Ranji Trophy match at the KCA-St.Xavier’s College ground, Jalaj Saxena broke away and ran towards the makeshift gallery in the stadium.
A few moments earlier, Jalaj had taken his 400th first-class wicket when he dismissed Pulkit Narang and he headed to the gallery to break the news to his parents – Ghanashyam Saxena and Manju Saxena- who were watching their son play for the first time for his adopted State.
“We weren’t aware of his landmark and we came to know of it only when he told us during the lunch break, it is good to see him performing well for Kerala. We are happy for him”, said Ghanashyam Saxena.
The 36-year-old all-rounder joined an elite company of cricketers who had completed 6000 runs and taken 400 wickets in first-class cricket. But Jalaj was the odd man out, the only uncapped player, in the group which included the legends like Kapil Dev, C.K. Nayudu, and Lala Amarnath.
Jalaj demolished Services with his career-best figures of eight for 36 at KCA-St. Xavier’s ground that has become a favourite hunting ground for him. “I have very fond memories of this ground. I love bowling on this wicket and it will always have a special place in my heart,’‘ he said.
Jalaj, who joined Kerala at the start of 2016-17 season, has consistently finished with more than 40 wickets in all seasons except in the truncated season last year where Kerala played only three group matches. Jalaj is happy with his performance for Kerala and said he was grateful to his team-mates for helping him adapt to culture which was alien to him.
“I should thank my teammates who were very helpful to me. It was very difficult for me initially. The food, and the culture was different but my team-mates made me feel at home. Now Kerala is like a second home for me,’‘ he said.
Though disappointed at his non-selection to the Indian team despite performing consistently well in first-class cricket, the dream is very much alive for him. `Really grateful to cross 400+ wickets and 6000+ runs. I hope I won’t remain uncapped forever. The dream is still alive’ he tweeted shortly after reaching the landmark.