'If you look back at the series, we will be a little disappointed': Dravid on Sanju Samson
Team India lost the final T20I international to Sri Lanka on Thursday to lose the three-match series to the hosts. India were put in a difficult spot in the last two T20 internationals as several players had to isolate after Krunal Pandya's positive test for Covid-19. A number of youngsters like Ruturaj Gaikwad, Devdutt Padikkal, Sandeep Warrier and Nitish Rana got their India caps in the last two matches.
However, all eyes were firmly on Sanju Samson. The talented wicket-keeper batsman has been a fan favourite due to his batting style and got several opportunities to impress in Sri Lanka. But Samson has now failed in nine consecutive T20 matches since last year. Samson wasn't able to get a big score in all the matches he played in Sri Lanka and looks like missing out on a place in the squad for the T20 World Cup.
India head coach for the Sri Lanka tour, Rahul Dravid defended Samson after the third T20I. Dravid said that the wicket wasn't the easiest to bat and management has to be patient with some players.
"It was not the easiest pitch to bat on. In ODIs, he got a chance and scored 46. He was batting well in the first T20 but last couple of wickets (pitches) were challenging.
"I guess yeah, if you look back at the series, we will be a little disappointed. Having said that not only Sanju but a lot of young guys in this team are talented kids, and we need to patient with them."
Rookies Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Nitish Rana along with Sanju Samson literally struggled against a quality spin bowling attack led by leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga.
Asked if he was disappointed in the manner the younger players were found wanting against Hasaranga and company, Dravid replied in the negative.
"I am not disappointed as they are young. They are going to learn and get better only when they are exposed to these kind of conditions and quality of bowling. Sri Lankan team's bowling attack is an international bowling attack," Dravid said while assessing the overall performance in the series.
But the former India captain and an all-time great did admit that there is lot to learn on how to play on challenging tracks, saying pitches in domestic cricket have become easier to bat as compared to his times.
"They would have liked to score a few more runs. They now have an opportunity to reflect that not all wickets are going to be flat. We need to find ways to scrap and score 130, 140 on these wickets," Dravid observed after seeing the Ranas and the Padikkals struggle on a Premadasa track where ball wasn't coming on to the bat.
"It's really a good learning as they are all young players. This is a great opportunity to reflect on these performances and may be come up with some slightly better strategies.
"Let me be fair, we don't get these kind of conditions very often in T20 cricket but when you do, I think, you have responsibility to play slightly better," the head of National Cricket Academy said.
(with PTI inputs)