Thursday, February 2

‘IPL will give him fame, popularity, and riches but…’ – Former India pacer opines on Sanju Samson

When the BCCI selection committee announced India’s main squad for the forthcoming T20 World Cup, it included many regulars but Sanju Samson’s omission made heads turn. The right-hander hasn’t created quite a stir at the highest level, barring some good cameos and a couple of half-centuries so far, Samson is a big name in the IPL and is lauded for his free-flowing approach with the bat .

Being in India’s scheme of things in the shorter formats, Samson has not been able to break into the main squad. The keeper-batter often features in India’s second-stringed line-ups and, hence, was part of the Men in Blue’s white-ball tour of the West Indies and the three ODIs versus Zimbabwe, in the African nation. In the two tours, many of India’s regular players were rested, thus, the Rajasthan Royals (RR) skipper got several opportunities. While some believe he should have been a part of India’s T20 WC squad, or at least in the reserves, former pacer S Sreesanth opined that Samson has a lot to catch up on and be more consistent for his state side Kerela.

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“He has to be consistent. See, everyone is talking about the IPL. I’m from Kerala, I’m somebody who has always supported him. I’ve seen him play from U14. He has played under me. In fact, “I was the one who gave him the cap on his Ranji Trophy debut. But the way I see him… it’s a request to him – he has to start performing in first-class matches,” Sreesanth told Hindustan Times on the sidelines of the Delhi leg of 2022 Legends League Cricket.

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Samson has 3,526 runs in 138 IPL games, including three hundreds at a strike rate of 135.72. Nonetheless, Sreesanth — a twin World Cup-winner — feels he has to step up in the first-class cricket. “Yes, IPL is very important. IPL will give him fame, popularity, and riches, everything across the globe. But I have this strong feeling – for any cricketer for that matter – that they need to start doing extremely well for the state side , especially in first-class cricket. Sanju has to come out and perform in first-class matches. Not just score a hundred, score 200s. Come and make the Kerala team win the Ranji Trophy! Make Kerala team win the Vijay Hazare Trophy. Then, the Kerala cricketers will come out on top,” Sreesanth asserted.

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Sreesanth also believes that there is a stiff competition in the Indian team for the keeper-batter slot and, hence, further pointed out, “Is Sanju the only cricketer in Kerala? No, there are so many other cricketers in the state. It’s just a matter of time. Sanju is playing in the IPL, he should be so grateful. The Malayali people across the globe are supporting him, but then, Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul, Ishan Kishan… they can all keep. I’m telling you , the keeper-batsmen combination is very high, it’s not just Sanju.”

He added, “I’ve told him also, that he has to come back to first-class cricket and make Kerala win. He is the captain also, I genuinely hope he scores hundreds, not just one hundred in three years. He should come into the scene like how Rishabh Pant or Ishan Kishan came. I’m very confident Sanju has got the talent and the ability. It’s just the matter of consistency.”

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At present, Samson is expected to be named as India’s vice-captain for the upcoming South Africa ODIs, at home, starting on Octoebr 06. With the T20 WC-bound players leaving for Australia, Shikhar Dhawan is likely to lead the ODI side with Samson reportedly set to get a promotion as the vice-captain.

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