'Dravid, Dhawan will go with him in first few matches': Kaif picks between Samson & Kishan as India keeper for SL series
If talent is Sanju Samon’s greatest ally in the battle to cement his place in the Indian side as a wicketkeeper-batsman then inconsistency is his biggest roadblock. The gap between Samson’s jaw-dropping innings is at times frustrating even for his biggest admirers. Only 7 T20Is despite being one of the most attractive players in the IPL for six-seven years, do not do justice to his talent but they also highlight where the right-hander has been lacking all these years.
First, it was MS Dhoni’s towering presence that kept Samson away from donning the gloves for India. Then it was sort of a either you or me with Rishabh Pant, which the latter appears to be winning and now Samson has another competitor for that keeper’s slot in Ishan Kishan.
With Pant and KL Rahul with the Indian Test side in England, it will boil down to a choice between Samson and Kishan – the wicketkeepers in India’s young side - in the Sri Lanka series.
Former India batsman Mohammad Kaif feels India’s captain for the Sri Lanka tour Shikhar Dhawan and head coach Rahul Dravid will have their tasks cut out but for starters, they will give Samson the nod.
“It’s going to be a very tough job for Rahul Dravid as a coach and Shikhar Dhawan as captain. There are only six matches and you have a big squad. But I think Sanju Samson has been there for the last couple of years. He has played for India before. He has gone to New Zealand, Australia. He has been captaining Rajasthan Royals too,” Kaif told Hindustan Times when asked about the keeper’s choice for the first ODI in a virtual interaction organised by Sony Sports.
Samson had forced his way into the Indian T20I side as a batsman on the back of stunning scores in the IPL and also the domestic white-ball tournaments Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali trophies but the Kerala youngster’s inability to put up a good score in New Zealand and then in Australia, promoted India to look towards Ishan Kishan for the home series against England.
The Mumbai Indians left-hander grabbed the opportunity with both hands by slamming 56 off 32 balls on debut.
Kaif, however, believes Samson deserves the first chance.
“I think in ODIs, Rahul Dravid and Shikhar Dhawan would prefer those who have already played for India. The experienced players might get priority in the first couple of matches. Sanju is one of them,” he added.
The Indian side in Sri Lanka is without some of their top players like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja. Kaif said it will provide an ideal opportunity for the likes of Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw and Hardik Pandya to showcase their leadership qualities.
“Shikhar and Prithvi have been playing well. Suryakumar Yadav has done really well for India and in the IPL. Then you’ve got Hardik Pandya. All eyes will be on him How he does on this tour. He’s a very crucial member of this team. Being an all-rounder, Hardik hopefully gets to bowl because when he bowls, he brings in that balance to the side. There will be eyes on his fitness,” Kaif added while responding to the query.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who is on a comeback trail and wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal will also like to make a strong for themselves before the selectors finalise the squad for the T20 World Cup later this year.
“There will be a keen interest in Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s fitness. He was not a part of the Test side. So he would want to put his best foot forward.
“Kuldeep and Chahal might play together. They haven’t played together for a long time. Kuldeep hasn’t played regularly for the last few months. He will be looking forward to making a mark. The senior players will get the first preference and from there on, they will see how it goes,” Kaif, who is a part of the broadcast team for the India-Sri Lanka limited-overs series, said.
(Watch the 1st ODI on 18th July 2021 LIVE on SONY TEN 1 and SONY SIX in English from 3.00 pm IST)