Sanju Samson credits gym session with Virat Kohli for his fresh verve in cricket

The 24-year-old Rajasthan Royals big-hitter and ‘keeper says a conversation with the India skipper on the New Zealand tour provided clarity.
Sanju Samson of Rajasthan Royals received man of the match award during match 9 of season 13 of the Indian Premier League (IPL).(Sportzpics for BCCI)
Sanju Samson of Rajasthan Royals received man of the match award during match 9 of season 13 of the Indian Premier League (IPL).(Sportzpics for BCCI)
Updated on Sep 29, 2020 11:26 PM IST
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Sixteen sixes in two matches underline the power-hitting Sanju Samson has unleashed in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020. While the Rajasthan Royals wicketkeeper-batsman credits increased fitness as a reason, his interaction with India skipper Virat Kohli on the New Zealand tour in February played a crucial role in a crucial change of perspective.

“I am a deep person. I keep on thinking about my future, which direction I am leading to. I keep thinking how many years I have left in my life. Everyone will die one day. At the same time if I am playing cricket, I am going to finish one day. That brought me to the thought that I can’t play cricket after 10-12 years. So, if I am not fit enough I should not play,” said the 25-year-old Kerala player, who hails from near Thiruvananthapuram.

“An amazing experience happened when I was in the gym with Virat Kohli. I asked why he put so much energy into fitness work. He asked me ‘Sanju, how many years are you going to play?’ I said ‘I am 25, I think till 35 I am going to play’. He said after 10 years I can do anything, eat Kerala food, pursue whatever I want. ‘But after these 10 years you won’t be able to play cricket. So, why don’t you give everything in these 10 years?’ That changed my perspective.”

Samson also credits former Kerala first-class player Raiphi Vincent Gomez for his improved fitness.

“I have understood my game. It’s more about power-hitting, and it’s bit more higher in T20s. I was lucky to have those four-five months training, increasing my strength and doing power exercises,” he said.“I had Raiphi bhai by my side. He has played cricket for Kerala and hails from the same place as I do. He was always there to push me.”

Samson scored a 32-ball 74 in the first game against Chennai Super Kings and did better in an IPL record 224-run chase against Kings XI Punjab in the second game, scoring a 42-ball 85. Against KXIP, it was Rahul Tewatia who surprised all by overcoming his early struggle to put bat to ball by smashing five sixes in an over by Sheldon Cottrell. Tewatia struggled to such an extent early on that batting partner Samson even refused a single to stay on strike.

“Glenn Maxwell (off-spin) was bowling at that time. I thought I am a right-handed batsman and should be taking chances against him. Also, Rahul was yet to get into his scoring momentum,” Samson said.

Tewatia: Zero to Hero

Tewatia has become the toast of IPL and Rajasthan Royals after his 31-ball 53 took the team home on Sunday.

The 27-year-old Haryana player credited clarity provided by the RR management on his role to his staying confident despite the initial struggle.

“I was sent at No. 4. The only plan was to go and take on the bowlers. It was not decided before the match but much before that. When we started training in the UAE and when we had video meetings during lockdown, the team management was clear with me about my role. That really helped,” he said.

“I am also a leg-spinner. I play for Haryana which has three international spinners in Yuzvendra Chahal, Amit Mishra and Jayant Yadav. So, I am not used so much in Ranji Trophy. I am used more in List A and T20 games. I am trying to make every opportunity count.”


    Abhishek Paul works with the Hindustan Times’ sports desk. He has been covering the beat since 2010 across print and digital mediums.

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