Saxena relishing late surge

Vineet Saxena is one of the many veterans on the Indian domestic circuit, now into his 13th year as a first-class player.

The 31-year-old right-handed opener is a workmanlike batsman who plays to his strengths but importantly, within his limitations. On a placid MA Chidambaram surface on day one of the Ranji Trophy final, the Margao-born Saxena made the most of a good thing with a polished hundred.

“Before the Saurashtra ga­me this season, I had had quite a few starts but I was not gett­ing a hundred,” Saxena told ne­wsmen on Thursday. “The Saurashtra game was the turning point (he made 127 in Jaipur to set up an outright victory for his team).

“I got 32 and 58 against Haryana on a green-top in Lahli in the semifinal, but this was a bigger knock because it has come in a Ranji Trophy final,” added Saxena, who has over 4600 runs in 78 first-class outings.

Saxena’s comrade in arms during an unbroken first-wicket stand worth 221 – a record for Rajasthan against Tamil Nadu – was the 34-year-old Aakash Chopra, the former India opener. “Aakash and me have a good understanding,” Saxena offered. “We discuss quite a few things with each other. Whenever I do something wrong, he comes up quickly and gives me advice, which helps.

“There was a period after lunch when we made only 20 or so runs in 15 overs,” continued Saxena, who was scoreless on 51 for 44 deliveries immediately after lunch. “We told each other that you can’t hit on the rise on this track, so you need to keep occupying the crease and the runs would eventually come.”

Saxena was all praise for his senior partner, who was struck under his left eye by J Kaushik, but made light of his physical discomfort to move to within 14 runs of his hundred by stumps.

Diplomacy comes easily to Saxena, who was asked if such a surface was befitting of a Ranji final. “No comments,” he said first. “It is quite slow, you have to be patient. There was not much the bowlers could do this pitch. The odd ball was stopping, but batting wasn’t difficult even if stroke-making was.”

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