Rahul Dravid was the happiest person in the Delhi Daredevils dugout on Saturday. It was on his advice that Sanju Samson batted at No 3 in the Delhi line-up. The Kerala boy has been proving Dravid right since his IPL debut against Kings XI Punjab in 2013.
Their association dates back to the Rajasthan Royals days when a young Samson played under Dravid’s captaincy. Three years down, Samson’s knock of 60 against Mumbai Indians at the Kotla showed glimpses of Dravid’s influence.
Samson had hogged the spotlight after his 63-run knock against Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2013, and the situation was similar on Saturday. The only difference then was that Samson was chasing RCB’s 171. He had come in at the same position with Rajasthan losing Ajinkya Rahane early. Dravid and Samson then shared a 27-run stand before the senior batsman too went back. Samson ended the 2013 edition with 206 runs and bettered it the following season with 339 runs.
Delhi had lost two wickets at 48, but with JP Duminy, Samson did not show nerves and kept going with the flow. At one stage, Delhi could have stepped on the pedal had they not lost wickets but Samson rebuild the momentum.
Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma introduced the spinners early as the Kotla wicket had good bounce and the ball was coming on nicely. To make things difficult, Rohit introduced Krunal Pandya and Harbhajan Singh. After gauging the break from the surface and bounce, Samson stepped out to Harbhajan and hit him for a huge six over long on. Then, he picked Harbhajan’s length early and swept him for a four.
Those 10 runs might not have looked significant but they forced Harbhajan to change his angle and length. Coming around the stumps, Samson dispatched him for a couple to the cover boundary. He then swept Pandya for a boundary.
Even Keiron Pollard praised Dravid’s guidance and said the way the young Delhi team had been playing it showed who was behind it. “It doesn’t take much guessing whose brains are at work. In Rajasthan also there was a young team and if you look at the person working behind scenes, Dravid has done a magnificent job with youngsters throughout India and they are gravitating towards him,” said Pollard.
The assessment is correct as players such as Samson, Karun Nair and Shreyas Iyer possess innovative strokes but prolonging their stay and shaping an innings is what Dravid has been teaching them.
Samson’s knock had shades of a Dravid knock as the former cricketer too knew how to craft an innings. Samson had 28 singles, two doubles, four boundaries and two sixes. It was a complete package. Though, Delhi managed 164, a par score at this ground, but had Samson and Duminy not shown patience, they could have fallen way short.