Nineteen-year-old wicketkeeper batsman Sanju Samson was picked in India’s 17-man squad for the limited-overs leg of their ongoing England tour. Railways’ leg-spinning all-rounder Karn Sharma and seasoned Mumbai pacer Dhawal Kulkarni were the other two uncapped players to get the nod for the five ODIs and one international T20.
Samson, the Kerala youngster, has set every stage alight, be it the IPL — while playing for the Rajasthan Royals — or the ICC U-19 World Cup, over the last 15 months. He backed up those strong performances with a sterling show Down Under recently, top-scoring for India A in the quadrangular tournament with 244 runs at an average of 81.
India A coach Lalchand Rajput insists that he saw Samson’s promotion to the senior team coming, considering the terrific performances that he dished out in Australia. And he can’t stop raving about the influence that the teenager had on the team’s trophy-winning run.
“He showed great maturity during the India A tour. It is not easy for anyone to bat low down the order, especially when you’ve been batting higher up for the whole season. The way he carried himself during the tour showcased how he has stepped up his game,” Rajput said.
A source close to the selection committee, meanwhile, explained that Samson was being considered as a long-term prospect.
“Samson is not a short-term pick. He did well in Australia and will learn a lot as Dhoni’s understudy. Karn Sharma has been picked because he would be a good option in the second half of the English summer, when the pitches have more wear and tear. As for Robin Uthappa’s omission, the Indian limited-overs batting picks itself and there’s not much room for experiment,” the source said.
Kulkarni, who has been a consistent performer with the ball over the years and has been part of national squads before, joins a pace attack that carries a youthful look. It’s led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami with the likes of Mohit Sharma and Umesh Yadav retaining their spots.
Karn’s inclusion it’s believed is more a result of an injury suffered by leg-spinner Amit Mishra. Mishra had been ruled out of selection since he is undergoing treatment and rehab following a back injury,” said Sanjay Patel, BCCI’s secretary. Ishant Sharma wasn’t picked for the shorter formats as the selectors want to preserve him for Tests.
The squad: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, MS Dhoni (c), Ambati Rayudu, Sanju Samson, Ravichandran Ashwin, Karn Sharma, Stuart Binny, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Mohit Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Dhawal Kulkarni.