Watch: Chepauk crowd goes berserk with 'Sanju, Sanju' chant as Samson comes out to bat in IND A vs NZ A
Samson scored 29 off 32, decorated with a four and three sixes. He even finished the game with a six over long-on, helping his side take a 1-0 lead in the unofficial ODI series.
Shardul Thakur and Kuldeep Sen shared seven wickets between them to set up India A's comfortable 7-wicket win over New Zealand A in the first unofficial ODI in Chennai on Thursday. Thakur and Sen left the visiting side reeling at 27 for five with a menacing opening spell. New Zealand A rode Michael Rippon's 61 to post 167 but that wasn't enough as India A overhauled the target inside 32 overs, as Ruturaj Gaikwad's 41 and Rajat Patidar's unbeaten 45 outwitted the bowlers. India A captain Sanju Samson also chipped in 29 off 32, decorated with a four and three sixes. He even finished the game with half a dozen runs over long-on, helping his side take a 1-0 lead in the unofficial ODI series.
India A got over the line with over 18 overs to spare and Samson's match-winning hit sent the Chepauk crowd into a frenzy. A fan-favourite, he was also welcomed with 'Sanju, Sanju!' chants as he walked out to bat in the 21st over. The video of Samson getting a rousing welcome went viral on social media in no time.
Samson's omission from India's squad for next month's World T20 did not go down well with his fans, who endlessly slammed the BCCI. The Kerala wicketkeeper-batter may have missed the ticket to Australia but he pointed out it's always a “challenge” to cement a place in the India eleven. The 27-year-old has featured in 7 ODIs and 16 T20Is so far.
The star batter was dropped from the side, as he was from the Asia Cup team, leaving fans dismayed. India chose Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik as their two wicketkeepers for the showpiece T20 event. Samson later was named as the captain of the India A team for one-day series against New Zealand A.
"It really does get challenging. Finding a place in the Indian team is really challenging. There is a lot of competition around, even within players who are in the team now. When these things happen, it is important to focus on myself," Samson said, as quoted by PTI.
Samson opened the innings in a T20I against Ireland, and played at fifth and fourth spot respectively in two games against West Indies. He played just three T20Is since this year's IPL with Rajasthan Royals.
"The quality of cricketers we have in our team is unbelievable. So, it really helps each and every individual to raise their level. We keep on challenging ourselves. We try to perform every time we get an opportunity," he added.
Samson also spoke about leading the A team and the level of competition in national A games. "They (India A games) are really important. There is not much difference between an A game and an international game. The competition is almost the same. so it is important to make use of the opportunities," he said.