'People said Sanju is god's gift to Indian cricket. But in reality...': Ex-India opener on Samson's 'cult following'

Mar 10, 2023 01:49 PM IST

A former India opener has weighed in on the Sanju Samson conundrum, explaining how the 28-year-old hasn't quite seized his opportunity with the Indian team, which in turn has pushed him down in the pecking order.

Sanju Samson remains an enigma. Despite all his exploits in the IPL and Kerala, the India batter hasn't been able to replicate the same success and consistency for the national team. That however hasn't impacted his stardom even a bit. Samson continues to enjoy a massive fan following across India, as even s brief mention of him is enough to make the crowd explode in cheers. But that doesn’t mast the fact that Samson has, to an extent, under-delivered given the insurmountable amount of talent that he possesses.

Sanju Samson last played for India in January. (Getty)
Sanju Samson last played for India in January. (Getty)

Over the last year or so, Samson has struggled to break into the Indian squad, let alone be part of the Playing XI. Opportunities have been far and few and competition from the likes of Rishabh Pant and Ishan Kishan hasn't made his life any easier. Yet, fans continue to get behind Samson and are miffed not seeing him get as many games as Pant or Ishan or in last year's case, Dinesh Karthik. Former India opener Aakash Chopra has weighed in on the Samson conundrum, explaining how the 28-year-old hasn't quite seized his opportunity with the Indian team, which in turn has pushed him down in the pecking order.

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"Indian cricket is interesting. Like it or hate it, but the fact is that the atmosphere creates perception, and that is sometimes stronger than the truth. Sanju has a cult following - we live in a digital world. Where he comes from, it is very obvious that place and region has a digital presence. When he plays well, he makes batting look easy. He is pleasing on the eyes, took his team to Ranji final, IPL final. Got some opportunities for India but didn't make the most of it. And this is a reality that fans do not understand. Sanju realises it that he is going to get limited opportunities in the current set-up," Chopra told YouTuber Ranveer Allahabadia on 'TRS Clips'.

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"There is just no place in the XI. Ishan Kishan scored a double century and yet we didn't give him the next few matches. When he did, he was asked to bat at No. 5. There isn't a place. And it's not because KL Rahul wasn't available. Had he been available, he would have still sat out. So that is the level of quality that is available. When the opportunity comes, just grab it away. If you throw it away for whatever reason, then you regret."

Touching upon Samson's humongous following, Chopra feels the fans tend to get carried away without realising the truth. After India crashed out of the T20 World Cup in Australia with a defeat to England in the semifinal, a section of people believed that things could have been different had Samson been in the mix. Karthik and Pant were the ones who kept wicket in the World Cup, but Chopra pointed out that the notion was such that India would have turned up as a different unit altogether had Samson been around, which he feels could not be any further from the truth.

"During the Sanju Samson, phase it felt as if he is god's gift to Indian cricket. People said 'Play him and everything will fall in place. We would have even won the World Cup final'. They wouldn't realise that the bowlers had an off day or that Karthik or Pant would have played in front of him. But in reality, his batting wouldn't have made any difference. The atmosphere was such that if Samson had played, we could have done this and that," he added.

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