Sanju Samson – Youngest among equals

Kerala's keeper-batsman Sanju Samson,18,searches for consistency to raise his profile.

Written by Sahil Malhotra | New Delhi | Published: August 29, 2013 12:35 am

At the age of 16,Sanju Samson became the youngest cricketer to represent Kerala at the first-class level. He had started playing for the state from the U-13 level,scoring plenty,right from his first appearance.

Convincing performances earned him a place in the higher age groups and in no time,Sanju became a promising prospect from a state little-known for cricket. The right-hander,who gives a lot of importance to performance,did well in the 2012/13 domestic season and went on to score 377 runs at a healthy average of 41.88 in 5 Ranji Trophy games. Also Read: Karan Sharma,Sanju Samson have a future in longer formats,writes Harsha Bhogle

On turning 18,he got a call from the Rajasthan Royals,which changed his life as a cricketer. Where talent meets opportunity — lines inscribed on the IPL trophy — sum up Sanju’s successful outing with the Rajasthan unit. He caught people’s attention for his impressive strokeplay and a very composed head over his shoulders. The wicketkeeper-batsman’s ability to read the game in pressure situations at such a young age,drew praise from all quarters. Despite all the appreciation,sharing space with the likes of Rahul Dravid still remains a ‘once in a lifetime experience’ for the youngster.

“I never had any experience of playing at a big stage like the IPL. The atmosphere in the Rajasthan camp was very good,the best I have seen. They keep things so simple that every player gets the push to perform. During selections,Rahul sir used to back me and gave me a lot of confidence. He constantly insisted I continue playing my natural game and not take pressure at any time. I have not seen such a humble and easy person like Rahul sir who talks to the youngsters so much,” says Sanju.

Quick learner

The right-hander took very little time to announce his arrival and became the youngest cricketer — at 18 years and 169 days — to score an IPL fifty. Off the field,Sanju made it a point to gain the maximum from the senior pros in the team and had to make very little effort for that.

“There were few instances when I walked up to Rahul sir. Whether during net sessions or team meetings,he used to take time out to communicate with the youngsters. It was very encouraging for someone like me,” informs the 18-year old,who scored 206 runs at a decent strike rate of 115.73 in the sixth edition of the IPL.

Still in his early days,the aggressive right-hander was appointed the vice-captain of the India U-19 team. After failing to make an impression in his first stint with the India U-19 unit last year,Sanju wants to make most of this opportunity.

“My only aim is to improve my game,which has improved a lot after the IPL. My game is positive and I like to dominate. I am looking forward to do the same with the opportunities I get with the India U-19 team. I didn’t get many opportunities last year but this year I am the vice-captain and one of the main players of the team. I had some good outings in the previous series and amlooking forward to make the most of the opportunities in the coming matches. We have a very good team,hull of energy and positive intent,” points the right-hander,who only scored 14 runs in the 3 matches he played during the U-19 Asia Cup last year.

With age on his side,Sanju wants to make a strong case with consistent performances.

“I am a person who stays in the moment. I will definitely get opportunities if I perform. I don’t set any particular goals for myself,taking it step by step. From a very young age,I have believed that to reach anywhere,performance is very important. All my efforts are directed towards doing well. Right now,I am playing the All-India Buchi Babu Tournament and want to do well in that. I believe in taking one step at a time,rather than thinking too far ahead,” says Sanju.

sahil.malhotra@expressindia.com

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