Sanju Samson was in sublime touch in ICC Under-19 World Cup 2014. Photo Courtesy: Official Website of ICC
Sanju Samson was in sublime touch with the willow in ICC Under-19 World Cup 2014. Photo Courtesy: Official Website of ICC


Sanju Samson impressed at the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2014 to enhance his reputation, as one of the most promising youngsters in India. Nishad Pai Vaidya spoke to Samson about the tournament.


Sanju Samson cools down after India ended its ICC Under-19 World Cup 2014 campaign with a win in the fifth place encounter against the West Indies. The Kerala batsman perhaps feels it could have been a lot better for his side. After all, they entered the tournament as favourites and were touted to emulate their predecessors. However, one defeat to England in the quarter-final put paid to their hopes and they found themselves out of contention instead. Samson looks at it more philosophically, “Cricket as a sport teaches us a lot about life as well. It teaches us how to take on failures and how to learn from it. We have a lot more to take on from this World Cup. So, we have learnt a lot from this.”


In the quarter-final, a less fancied England beat India in a tense finish. Emotions were running high for both teams; Vijay Zol was even banned after the game for his unwanted outburst. But, through all that, Samson was always a picture of calm and knows the balance of things. “Everyone playing this tournament has a dream to take the World Cup. I think we should respect the other opponents and we should respect that they played better than us at the time when it was needed,” he says.


Anyone who watched Samson flay his willow for the Rajasthan Royals (RR) during the last Indian Premier League (IPL), one may have felt he is a typically aggressive youngster with no fear in the world. But, this World Cup has shown that he can play with a mixture of caution and aggression to rally his team forward. Against arch-rivals Pakistan in the first game of their campaign, they were struggling at 94 for four when Sarfaraz Khan joined Samson. As Sarfaraz took on the attack, Samson was calm and collected; compiling 68 of 101 balls. Not an innings one would have expected from him given his IPL exploits. He has essayed more aggressive knocks during this World Cup, but ask him about his favourite and he says, “Obviously the one against Pakistan. Because we won and it was crucial.”


Samson says that he likes to take this approach of playing the waiting game. There is that hint of responsibility which is quite encouraging for a youngster. “I love to take on the responsibility and love to take on the challenge. If the situation demands for me to go after the bowling, they I do. If they want me to stay on the wicket, I would love to do that,” Samson says. The knock against Pakistan surely is proof of that.


Even later on, Samson showed that he could switch gears quite well. Against Papua New Guinea (PNG), although a weak opponent, he showed that he has the right temperament to adjust to the situations. The wicket wasn’t the same as the one they played at Dubai and Samson took his time before commencing a brutal assault. “Actually, every wicket we got, there is a different challenge in there. So, I took time to adjust according to the situation. When it was time to go, I just went for it.”


Now, Samson will walk away from the Under-19 setup and would move into the bigger league full-time. Although he has impressed at a higher level, there was always this Under-19 stage, where he could go back and perform. It has undoubtedly given him and his teammates a good platform to move forward. “From the Under-16 time, this same group has been together. We have attended the camps every year. All these years of being together, we have learnt a lot from that. We are happy that we have done the schooling of cricket and we are ready to challenge after this.”


With 267 runs in six matches at an average of 44.50, one would say that Samson has done well. But as India packed up to comeback to India, one could sense the disappointment in the camp. But, as Samson said that the sport teaches you to take on failures and these youngsters are preparing for bigger battles to come. It has undoubtedly been a good learning curve for this batch and there are many things they can take forward. “I have grown to be a better cricket at the Under-19 level. I have learnt a lot and I think it would be very useful for me in the coming years,” Samson concludes.


(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)