New Delhi: Kerala's emerging wicketkeeper-batsman, Sanju Samson, who made heads turn during the 2012-13 Ranji Trophy season with centuries against Himachal Pradesh and Andhra is set to represent Rajasthan Royals in the upcoming IPL 6 starting April 3. Having been part of the Kolkata Knight Riders squad last season but not getting to play a game, the 18-year-old is confident of making a mark with Rajasthan in 2013.
Following a strong Ranji Trophy season in which he scored 377 runs in ten innings, at 41.88, and then 222 in the Vijay Hazare trophy, Samson spoke to Cricketnext about his expectations from IPL 6 and playing under Rahul Dravid. Excerpts:
This will be the second IPL season for you. How are your preparations going?
I have played a lot of first-class matches and I am in good touch. Now I am trying to acclimatise myself quickly as per this shortest format of cricket. I am pretty excited. This is a 20-over format and we need to score on every ball if we have to win the match. I am trying to hit every ball that comes to me at the nets. I am getting a lot of support from my coach and team members too. My main aim is to perform and contribute for my team.
Last season, you played for Kolkata Knight Riders and now Rajasthan Royals. Excited about the move?
Kolkata Knight Riders were the champions last year. It felt great of being the member of a winning side, but I didn't get a single chance to play for them. I was as a backup wicketkeeper in the squad. This time I will play the first two matches of the tournament for my new team Rajasthan Royals. I will give my best. I would really feel good if I could fetch some winning runs for my team. This is my second IPL and I am happy that I am a part of this season too. Though I didn't play for KKR I watched the senior pros from the dug-out last year and that will be a major help for me this time.
You were under Gautam Gambhir last year and this time it will be Rahul dravid. Do you see any difference between the two leaders?
Yes, a huge difference. Gautam bhai is a great leader and a good batsman too. I love his technique and his batting off the back foot. Gautam bhai is bit aggressive at times. He can easily handle the pressure in the death overs. But, this time I will be under Rahul sir. He has no comparison with anyone. I have never seen a player like him. He has a calm and composed demeanor which creates a positive attitude among players. I have spent three days in the practice camp with him. He watches every player carefully and then points out the area of improvement. He is a positive person and ready to help any point of time. I am really eager to play with Rahul sir.
You spent three days with Dravid in the camp. What lessons did he give it you?
Everyday I used to pad up and start batting at the nets with the coaches and team-mates. I still remember, on the second day of the camp Dravid sir came to me and said he was impressed by my performance. He told me that there is talent in me but a long way to go for you. He gave me some tips on batting and asked me follow them in the nets. It really worked. I am really looking forward to play with the Indian legend.
Which is your preferred batting spot?
I usually bat at for No. 3 for my team, Kerala. But here, I will look for the fourth or fifth spot or whatever my mentors will say. I will try to score as much from any position.
Do you think the Ranji Trophy performance will help you in the shorter format?
Yes, of course. I think a good batsman is one who can acclimatise himself as per any format of the game. I will also try to do tat. I have played a lot of first-class matches and have performed well too. I got two centuries and a half century in the last Ranji season. I scored 127 not out against Himachal Pradesh and then 122 and 51 against Andhra Pradesh. I was also the top-scorer in the Buchi Babu Trophy. I am in good touch right now and will try to carry the same in this format as well.
Rajasthan's first match is be against Delhi Daredevils. Are you ready to face the challenge against Virender Sehwag, Mahela Jayawardene and David Warner?
I am bit nervous but ready to face the challenge. Sehwag, Morkel, Mahela and Warner are veterans in the cricketing world. But I will be playing my game and will try to give my best. This is a great opportunity for me to perform with senior pros and legends from different countries.