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With young players like Sandeep Sharma, Karun Nair and Suryakumar Yadav doing well for their sides in Indian Premier League (IPL) 7, the focus on Sanju Samson has gone up. Shiamak Unwalla analyses why a young batsman with so much potential has struggled to capitalise on his opportunities in the last few matches.
Since the inception of the Indian Premier League in 2008, a number of young Indian players have gained prominence. Fringe players like Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, and Ajinkya Rahane gained much needed exposure, while youngsters like Manish Pandey, Saurabh Tiwary and Mandeep Singh got to showcase their talent on the big stage.
However, one player who has looked in a completely different league is Sanju Samson. Right from his debut game in IPL 2013 — where he hit the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) bowlers to all ends of the park en route to a 41-ball 63 — he has looked a special talent. Here is a batsman who could dance down the track to a quick bowler and hoist him over the ropes while showing as much grace and poise as when he would play a cover drive.
That he has oodles of talent is evident from his domestic record — thirteen games into his First-Class career, he has over 900 runs with four centuries including a double hundred.Unfortunately, so far in this edition of the IPL, he has failed to make good on his capabilities. He currently averages just 21.44 in IPL 7. Out of the nine matches he has played, he has only a solitary half-century and a couple of 30s. What is more disappointing is that barring just two single-digit scores, he has got off to a promising start in each innings but then failed to capitalise.
In a match against the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), Samson hit Ben Hilfenhaus for two sixes over long-on in the same over. He looked set to play a big innings before a leading edge went back to the bowler for a return catch. That one innings sums up his season so far. It had a few terrific strokes, and just when you thought you were in for a treat, he found a way to dismiss himself. As Virat Kohli would say, the case is more Samson giving his wicket than the bowlers taking it.
Batting at No 3 in virtually every game, the responsibility of playing a long innings falls on him more often than not. He has yet to play the type of innings that will vindicate the faith placed in him by coach Rahul Dravid. But if anyone has an eye for talent, it is Dravid. Few other coaches would have persisted with Karun Nair like Dravid did, and that move has paid tremendous dividends for the Royals.
Samson has the potential to play for India, and he seems to have a good head on his shoulders as well. What he needs is more application and the unwavering will to score a bucketful of runs against quality opposition in trying circumstances. Luckily for him, the man who typified that breed of batting is his coach and mentor. One feels that it is just a matter of time before Samson cuts loose and gives the performance that fans of the game are waiting for.
A big match against a big opposition like Chennai Super Kings, could be the ideal platform for the Samson we all hope for to finally make an appearance. One feels that if he does, Rajasthan’s chances of winning the IPL for the second time will go up exponentially.
(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)
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