New Delhi: Iresh Saxena, one half of the East Zone spin pair that delivered victory in the Duleep Trophy final (by virtue of a 43-run first-innings lead) in a rain-hit final in Chennai on Thursday, has credited a healthy team environment for his success. The left-arm spinner took five wickets – including that of Mohammad Kaif, Vineet Saxena and Tanmay Srivastava – en route to a career-best haul and was confident of taking this form into the upcoming Ranji Trophy season.
“It is an awesome feeling to perform in the final, especially since we defended a very small target. I am happy to deliver for my team because I was the only spinner in the team and I had responsibilities,” he told Cricketnext. “My mindset was very good because everyone was positive. No one in the team was jealous about anyone. Everybody supported each other. My coach guided me and the other senior players like [Ashok] Dinda and Anustup Majumdar helped me.”
The fifth day of the Duleep Trophy final began in the balance with Central Zone batting on 72 for 2 in reply to East’s 232, but a steady procession of wickets pulled the defending champions forward. Having removed Vineet Saxena and Kaif on the fourth evening, Saxena took the second wicket to fall on day five, that of Ashok Maneria, before part-time spinner Majumdar began to make inroads. Saxena finished with a personal best of 5 for 58 and Majumdar emerged a surprise package with 4 for 29. “It is a great achievement for him. He started his career as a spinner and I was confident that he can deliver. But he lacks consistency,” said Saxena.
Though he made his first-class debut for Bengal in November 2008, the 28-year-old Saxena has played just 15 matches. Those opportunities have resulted in just 37 wickets, but he has three five-wicket hauls and a stellar economy rate of 2.45. Saxena did not feel he was inconsistent. “I enjoy my bowling but have not got enough chances. I do not know what people say, these things do not matter to me. Everybody has ups and downs and in every match I cannot perform. I try to perform every time but sometimes luck matters. If you see my economy rate, I have never conceded many runs,” he said.
The 2012-13 Ranji Trophy season begins on November 2 with Bengal opening their campaign at home against defending champions Rajasthan. Saxena was keen to get started with the season but revealed he did not set himself any targets. “I will just try to bowl in the good areas and whatever opportunities I get there I have to perform,” he said. “Sometimes you get five wickets and sometimes one. It depends.”