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Friday, September 24, 2021

India tour of Sri Lanka: Sanju Samson flatters to deceive, T20 World Cup chances hang by a thread

So far in his career, T20 numbers are ordinary -- 117 runs in 10 games at a strike rate of 110 despite being given opportunities to bat in the top four.

Written by Rahul Sadhu | Kolkata |
Updated: July 30, 2021 12:59:58 pm
Sanju SamsonSanju Samson dives back to stop the ball being hit on the wicket. (AP Photo)

Sanju Samson’s scores in the T20I series against Sri Lanka do not paint a good picture. For someone who was tipped to make an impact before the T20 World Cup, 34 runs in 3 matches (with two fours and a six) at a strike rate of 94.44 and an average of just 11.33, these numbers are a massive disappointment. To sum it up, Samson simply squandered yet another golden opportunity before the T20 World Cup in October as he struggled against the Sri Lankan attack.

Leg spinner Wanindu Hasaranga, had him in all sorts of trouble, getting the better of him in three matches. In the final T20I, Samson seemed all the sea against the guile of Hasaranga.

The ghosts of his previous two dismissals, where he was outfoxed by the googly, seemed to play on his mind as he was trapped in front by a leg-break in the third game in Colombo.

Samson’s recent struggles against spin in T20 cricket on the international stage are well documented as he has been able to score just 51 runs in 45 balls with six dismissals (three to Hasaranga, two to Mitchell Swepson 2 and once to Akila Dananjaya)

Talent vs Consistency

Samson’s talent is not a question but consistency remains a big issue with the 26-year-old.

So far in his career, his T20 numbers are ordinary — 117 runs in 10 games at a strike rate of 110 despite being given opportunities to bat in the top four. In his last 10 T20I innings for India, his scores read- 19, 6, 8, 2, 23, 15, 10, 27, 7, 0.

Former India captain and legendary opening batsman Sunil Gavaskar, in an interview with Star Sports during IPL 2021, had said: “One of the reasons why he has not been featuring in the Indian team is that he scores runs in one game and then he looks to do it and carry on as if he’s batting in the next game from the same game, and that’s how he keeps getting out.”

Now it seems that Samson is indeed unable to find that consistency. His 20s and 30s are doing more harm than good. Even in the IPL, where he attained much of his fame, he has been dismissed 27 times between scores of 20 and 50.

A couple of years back in 2019, Samson was specifically asked about his thoughts on the same to which he had said that he never thought of consistency as an issue. “I am a bit different type of a player where I just feel that I should go and dominate the bowlers.”

So has he fallen prey to his own strategy or does he need to mend his ways?

Rahul Dravid on Samson’s performance

When India coach Rahul Dravid was asked about Samson’s performance in the post-match press conference on Thursday, the 48-year-old said: “I think to be honest it is not the easiest condition to bat in. Obviously, he got a chance in the one-day game and got a very good start of 46 runs, but in the T20s he probably batted well in the first one, however, the last couple of wickets have been a bit challenging.”

India’s Sanju Samson plays a shot during the third one-day international cricket match between Sri Lanka and India in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Friday, July 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

“But I guess when we look back on the series we would be a little disappointed but having said that I think it is not only Sanju, I think a lot of these young guys are talented young kids and terrific players, and we need to be patient,” he added.

“The young batters will keep learning and only when they are exposed to these conditions will they get better,” he further added.

Sanju Samson is a quality player with a bundle of talent but so far it has just been flashes of brilliance rather than a prolonged patch of big and consistent scores. Will he get such an opportunity again in the Indian colours? As of now, chances might be few and far to come.

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