'Don't think winning IPL title would help': Ex-India selector's point-blank verdict on Samson's Team India chances
Sanju Samson wasn't the part of India's last T20I and ODI assignments against New Zealand and Australia respectively.
The Rajasthan Royals faced a narrow 10-run defeat to Lucknow Super Giants in the 2023 Indian Premier League game on Wednesday night. In a relatively low-scoring game at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur, the RR were given a 155-run target to secure a fifth win in the season; however, Sanju Samson's men were restricted to 144/6 in 20 overs on a rather slow surface, despite a positive start. The opening duo of Jos Buttler and Yashasvi Jaiswal had forged an 84-run stand before the side faced a middle-order collapse, eventually succumbing to a narrow defeat.
Nevertheless, the Royals have made an impressive start to the season and remain on the top of the table despite the defeat on their homecoming in Jaipur. The side has four wins in six matches, and enjoy a healthy Net Run Rate (+1.043), as RR are set for another strong season; the Samson-led side had reached the final of the season last year where it faced a defeat to newcomers Gujarat Titans.
Also read: 'Classic case of 'see ball, hit ball'. Not worried about consequences': Ex-RR coach's merciless verdict on Samson
Samson also dished out consistent performances for the Royals in the previous season, scoring 458 runs in 17 matches at an impressive strike rate of 146. This year, the Kerala-born wicketkeeper-batter has scored 159 runs in six matches so far, registering two half-centuries. Over the years, Samson has remained in-and-out of the national team; despite strong performances in the Indian Premier League, Samson hasn't got a consistent run with Team India.
Samson has represented India in 11 ODIs and 17 T20Is since making his debut, and has played in a number of positions in the batting order, including as an opener. During an interaction with former India selector Sarandeep Singh – who had also picked Samson in Indian squads during his tenure – Hindustan Times asked about Samson's lack of opportunities in the Indian squad and whether the wicketkeeper needs an IPL title as captain to solidify his claim for the first-choice role.
However, Sarandeep stated that an IPL title has got nothing to do with consistent chances in Team India.
“Sanju Samson got his chances as an opener in T20Is when we were selectors. We gave him a proper chance. But at that time, he wasn't really able to make a mark. In the fifty-over games, he played in the middle-order and his performances were good. But what happens is, during the same time, there are other wicketkeeper-batters who perform well as well,” Sarandeep, who is the IPL Commentator and Expert on JioCinema, told us.
"Ishan Kishan scored a double-hundred recently. Of course, Rishabh Pant is there. Dinesh Karthik had also made a return last year. That's why, sometimes you don't get many chances.
“But I don't necessarily believe that winning the IPL title would help his case. Because you may win the IPL, but what if you don't score enough runs in the season? So, performances are the only criteria. If you're scoring 700-800 runs in an IPL season, you will definitely get picked. Yes, winning the IPL title is important, but only performances can get you picked,” Sarandeep stated.
This year, Samson has scored at a strike rate of 160 so far in six matches, and will be aiming to end RR's title drought. Royals' only IPL title came in the inaugural edition of the league in 2008, when Shane Warne had steered the side to title victory, defeating Chennai Super Kings in the final.
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