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Sanju Samson’s quick rise from young prodigy to the fringes of Team India is a great sign

Sanju Samson impressed everyone with his performances with both bat and gloves for the Rajasthan Royals during IPL 2013 © IANS
Sanju Samson impressed everyone with his performances with both bat and gloves for the Rajasthan Royals during IPL 2013 © IANS

It has been roughly a year since Sanju Samson from the backwaters of Kerala took everyone’s breath away with his sparkling stroke-play and nimble wicketkeeping for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL.  Now, at the age of 19, he has been picked up by the Indian selectors in the Provisional 30-man squad for the ICC World Twenty20 2014 in Bangladesh. Bharath Ramaraj has more….

When the 19-year old Sanju Samson, with a crisp angling of the willow, essayed his first half-century in an Indian Premier League (IPL) game against Royal Challengers Bangalore at Japiur last year, the quaint charms of watching batsmen who played with pristine grace from another era flooded to one’s mind.

Now, that was just one IPL game, where the standard of cricket on display is arguably not the greatest. But the oozing self belief and a touch of class in that match took everyone by surprise. He had already won plaudits in the tournament for his nimble glove-work too. Who can forget his surgical-like wicketkeeping skills against Kings XI Punjab? When Rahul Dravid says someone is a ‘special talent’ he can’t be bad. Samson certainly has come a long way after being dropped from the Kolkata Knight Riders’ set-up after the 2012 season.

In a matter of few months, after being showered with praise, he is now selected in the provisional Indian squad for the ICC World Twenty20 2014 tournament in Bangladesh.

Now, Samson may not make it into the 15-member squad that would take on the rest of the cricketing world in the coveted tournament, but even if he doesn’t, he will keep knocking at the doors of the selectors in the years to come. Actually, it has to be said that the selectors can plump for him in the final squad, as his game is well suited to the shortest form of the game. If needed, he can purely play as a batsman.

Even if we go by his performances in the domestic circuit for his state of Kerala, it is clear that his showing in the IPL wasn’t a mirage in the desert. He averages 43.88 in First-Class cricket. Yes, there can be occasions in his career when he may welter through a narrow lane of mediocrity, but if he keeps his head still on his young shoulders, we are bound to witness more good days from the gift-wrapped cricketer.

Ironically, it was S Sreesanth, allegedly involved in IPL 2013 spot-fixing controversy, who is said to have taken him to the Rajasthan Royals’ trials. Even Kerala coach Sujit Somasunder is believed to have tipped off Rajasthan’s captain Rahul Dravid about the wonder boy from Kerala.

Samson comes from an old school of batting. He seems to pick the ball early and there is none of those fancy trigger movements on view, as he doesn’t move until the ball is in the air. His feet, his willow and his body seems to instinctively know where they should be and he plays with a still head. All of it is a hallmark of a fine batsman. It can sometimes be difficult to judge a cricketer on the basis of the IPL, but at the age of 19, Samson has it in him to glow brightly in the higher rungs of the game.

Samson’s coach Biju George said to Times of India, “Sanju never complains and is always keen to improve his game. He initially had a problem playing the spinners.”

Sanju Samson, the second son of a former police constable has charted a remarkable journey in his brief career. Hopefully from India’s perspective, he won’t get carried away with the success, but continue to work hard on his game and elevate it to towering peaks.

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(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)

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