Team India handed a call-up to promising wicket-keeper batsman Sanju Samson for the three-match T20Is against Bangladesh. The two teams are set to fight in a crunch battle, starting November 3. The focus for both teams will be to build momentum for the ICC World T20 to be held next year in Australia.
It was in 2015, when a rookie Samson was handed his debut in a T20I against Zimbabwe. The right-handed batsman managed just 15. After that the Kerala batsman didn’t find any more chances coming his way. Time passed by and despite scoring runs in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and domestic cricket, Samson was overlooked for India’s T20I journey.
More than four years later, the 24-year-old has got a massive chance to showcase his credentials. He has been knocking the door for a while now and the talent he possesses is something that needs showcase. The aggressive batsman is influential and can bat in different positions.
Recently, he had slammed a maiden double century in a Vijay Hazare Trophy for Kerala against Goa. He registered an unbeaten 212 runs off just 129 deliveries. The right-hander smashed 20 fours and ten sixes in his sublime knock. The flamboyant batsman played at the top of his game to bring up his maiden List A century.
This helped him make the selectors think positively. Another factor that helped him was skipper Virat Kohli being handed a much-needed rest in the T20I series. Samson comes in as a specialist batsman and it remains to be seen whether the management hands him a chance straight away.
Here we look at Samson on why he can be a pivotal force.
Samson has the potential to thrive at the big stage
What Samson has under his belt is the maturity now. In 2015, it was an immature youngster handed a rare outing. There were expectations and somehow things happened too fast. As time passed by, Samson was determined and worked hard. He chose to put an emphasis on his fitness and got runs under his belt.
All this while, India had the likes of MS Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik leading the line in limited-overs cricket. Now with the focus on youngsters being groomed and freshness in the side, the onus is on these promising players to step up.
India already have Rishabh Pant in the set-up and he is someone who is India’s main bet in the coming years. However, Pant hasn’t justified his selection with poor outings in limited-overs. And that’s where the threat comes from Samson. The latter is equally talented and can stake a serious claim whenever India need another option.
Samson looks more mature now with age and he is improving. He has miles to go, however, he needs those outings to go and express himself. What he also has to present in his offerings is a string of consistency.
He can come on in the top order and give the side an ideal start. He is powerful and hit those big shots. T20 is a format he likes and if he can make the right start, the work can help him blend him.
It won’t be easy for Samson from here on
The Indian think tank needs to be credited for handing chances to exciting players in the shortest format keeping the WT20 in mind. In the recent past, India have rotated players and also many promising names lost their places after not quite stepping up.
Vijay Shankar, who came in and seemed to be a regular, lost his place and is now facing a huge task to make a return. The likes of Shardul Thakur, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey etc have all been in and out of the side in limited-overs. So nothing is guaranteed. Someone like a Rahul hasn’t got the desired chances in the team despite being in the squad.
Samson cannot afford to be in and out and be in a state these players have been in. He cannot be a flash in the pan and play an innings here and there. That would be similar to a much younger Pant. When you look at Samson’s stats, he averages only slightly above 30 after 88 List A appearances, and 27 from 142 T20s.
These aren’t quite the numbers you’re looking for from top order candidates. India have several youngsters in the mix for those positions.
Even in the recent Vijay Hazare Trophy, besides that one innings of 212, the Kerala player didn’t do well in seven other innings, he tallied 208 runs, at an average under 30.
We are talking about someone for whom the potential undeniably, exists — but if he does get a chance, Samson will need to defy the inconsistency and take things as it comes and make his presence felt. He also needs to improve his keeping skills.
A much calmer Samson needs to be patient
The Rajasthan Royals batsman said he had lots of high expectations about himself in the past. He now believes that one needs to be more patient and wait for his turn.
“I had lots of high expectations about myself that I should have performed much better than what I did. That I should have got into the team much before, but lately, I understood that everything has its own time and you have to be patient for your turn. I have been doing that and have become a better person in the process,” he told PTI.
The words are there and the thought-process is much calmer from the player here. But he needs to bring this into reality. One needs to work on his strengths and not chase perfection.
“I have worked on my strengths and not tried to be the perfect batsman that I tried be for a long time. I understood that no one can be a perfect batsman. Now I keep it simple and enjoy my cricket.”
He has done the work needed to be recognised. But the real work starts now. There is less time and the stakes are high. He has been praised by several top guns in the game. The execution is all we hope for.