Sanju Samson has played 13 T20Is for India since his debut in 2015 and has the highest score of 35 averaging 14.50 and a strike-rate of 121.67. Despite being backed publicly by an awe-struck Rohit Sharma on the eve of India’s first T20I against Sri Lanka in February this year, Samson hasn’t been able to translate the promise and elegance he shows in almost every season of the IPL on the international circuit.
In IPL 2022, while captaining Rajasthan Royals to being runners-up, Samson emerged as the ninth-highest run-scorer with 458 runs at an average of 28.63 and strike-rate of 146.79. Apart from scoring two half-centuries, Samson has mostly been out in the 30s and 40s while going hard on the ball from word go.
With Samson behind in the reckoning for a place in the Men’s T20 World Cup squad with Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik and Ishan Kishan ahead in the race, the timing of two T20Is against Ireland couldn’t have come at a better time to boost his credentials in the shortest format of the game.
Former India cricketer Mohammad Kaif feels that Samson should look to finish matches in order to justify the talent he has. “Sanju Samson has not done justice to the talent he has got. He plays well in the IPL; he starts really well at number three, gets good 50-60 runs for Rajasthan Royals.
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“But probably he’s not been that consistent. He’s got the x-factor, can win games for India on his day. But I feel Sanju Samson can bat a touch lower. My suggestion would be to Sanju Samson that he should start batting like to finish the game," said Kaif in a virtual interaction organised by Sony Sports.
Kaif strengthened his case for Samson being a finisher citing his 19-ball 46 against Delhi Capitals in IPL 2022. “I remember one innings he played against Delhi Capitals; where (Jos) Buttler got (a) century, then he got to bat like four-five overs and made a quickfire 45 (46). He should come down and start to finish games for India and for Rajasthan Royals. Having said that, he’s got talent, skill and whenever he got the opportunity to play for India, he has not grabbed it with both hands. Maybe now if he gets a chance (against Ireland)."
One of the key features of India’s upcoming two-match T20I series against Ireland is the opportunities it can provide to youngsters like Rahul Tripathi and Umran Malik. Kaif is eager to see Malik, who earned a maiden call-up in the T20I series against South Africa, play for India when the time is right.
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“I would like to see Umran Malik play for India one day. But at the same time, I don’t want to make him rush. Like, Rahul Dravid is making sure he is sitting in the dugout, watching the game from outside. He’s got the pace; he’s strong and has got the form going at the moment.
“I am not the only one, the whole of India wants to watch him play for the country one day. His time will come but Rahul Dravid is doing a good job of settling his nerves down and when the time arrives, he will do a great job for India. He’s got the skill, pace and right temperament as a bowler."
On Tripathi, who amassed an impressive 413 runs for Sunrisers Hyderabad at an average of 37.54 and a strike rate of 158.23 in IPL 2022, Kaif thinks that the right-handed batter is ready to play for India. “I was very happy when Rahul Tripathi was picked for the Indian team because someone who has been doing so well in domestic cricket, in IPL whenever he plays for any franchise, either KKR or SRH, he’s fantastic."
“The way he strikes the ball after coming at number three and he can play well against spinners as well as the pacers, I was very happy and I hope he gets a chance to play. Someone like Tripathi can grab the chance with both hands. He looks ready for India. Let’s hope he gets a chance and plays a fantastic knock for India."
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