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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Steely, calculative: Sanju's new avatar behind WC call-up

Steely, calculative: Sanju's new avatar behind WC call-up

Source: PTI
May 01, 2024 09:05 IST
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Sanju Samson

IMAGE: Never complaining about past omissions, Sanju Samson simply upgraded to a better version. Photograph: BCCI

Sanju Samson and his legion of faithful fans might have heaved a massive sigh of relief when he was named in India's 15-member squad for the T20 World Cup in USA and Caribbean.

His moment came after delicate knocks on the door in the past became a loud thud during this IPL where Samson has so far scored 385 runs from nine matches at a strike-rate of 161.08.

In comparison, KL Rahul, his closest rival for the second wicketkeeper-batter's slot behind Rishabh Pant, has made 378 runs from nine matches at 144.27.

 

On the periphery, there is nothing much to distinguish between them apart from the strike-rate, which at times can paint a rather false picture.

But in Samson's case those numbers are prima-facie evidence of his impact in the Rajasthan Royals' pink jersey.

The loudest argument against Samson in the past was his tendency to produce plateauing outings as a tournament progress.

The IPL 2023 was an example of that as after a couple of blazing fifties in the beginning, the 29-year-old did not do much to write home about.

Sanju Samson 

IMAGE: Sanju Samson has shown restraint and maturity, especially during run chases, in the ongoing IPL. Photograph: BCCI

But Samson never really complained about his regular omission, he upgraded to a better version of himself.

There is a steeliness about him now. Royals' chase of 197 against Lucknow Super Giants at the latter's home is a shining example of his newfound grit.

Chasing 197 at Lucknow against a set of competent bowlers is not an easy task and Royals had lost Jos Buttler very early too in the innings.

From 78 for three in the 9th over, Samson (71 not out, 33 balls 7x4, 4x6) and Dhruv Jurel (52 not out, 34b) guided RR to a seven-wicket win with an over to spare.

His treatment of spinners, particularly that of leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi, on a slightly gripping track might have caught the eye of the bigwigs.

When the 16th over, bowled by Bishnoi, began, Royals were still a fair distance away from the target. But Samson closed the gap, smoking the spinner for two fours and a six.

But Samson was equally respectful to left-arm spinner Krunal Pandya's tight lines on the stumps, taking well-calculated ones and twos to keep the scoreboard moving.

The Samson of old could have thrown away that platform with a rash shot, trying to impose himself over the overs.

But here, the right-hander was patient enough to wait for his chances and was confident enough to cash in on them once they came his way eventually.

Sanju Sanson 

IMAGE: His natural six-hitting ability and flexibility make him a precious commodity. Photograph: BCCI

That merging of skills and temperament has made him a much more desirable player than in the past.

Along with that, his natural six-hitting ability and flexibility make him a precious commodity. Samson is quite comfortable batting from No. 1 to No. 5 in the order, something K L Rahul does not offer.

Rahul is a slow-beginner who loves to build the momentum but Samson can hit the top gear from ball one. Here are the numbers to validate that statement.

Since the 2020 edition of the IPL no batter has been able to hit as many sixes as Samson (110) and that's a huge statement in a league that houses players such as Buttler, Andre Russell, Glenn Maxwell, Rinku Singh, Jonny Bairstow among others.

His ability to impart instinctive power to his shots even on the most docile pitches might be invaluable in the West Indies and the USA, where the 22-yard trampolines could play slow and low.

The selectors could not have looked beyond those numbers and his astute leadership of Royals while considering names for the second wicketkeeper slot.

The falling out of Ishan Kishan, another born power-hitter, with the team management too might have made the road to Indian team a tad easier for Samson.

But no praise will be high enough for Samson, who worked diligently, single-mindedly to realise his dream of being part of an Indian World Cup squad. Doff your hat for this silent fighter.

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