T20 is an instinctive format and despite its rapid emergence, only a few batters fit the bill perfectly, thanks to their ability to shift gears even without wild slogs or cranky strokes. Sanju Samson belongs to a rare breed of players who make batting look like poetry in motion. It was during the Qualifier-1 of the recently-concluded IPL when Samson hit it an effortless six on the very first delivery he faced. The hit was tinged with his trademark batting elegance as he refused to shy away from taking risks, especially when his consistency was a major talking point after India announced their squad for South Africa Twenty20s.
Samson’s omission from the home assignment sparked a fresh debate over his future with the Indian team. Skipper Rohit Sharma earlier this year underlined Samson’s abilities with the bat, saying the wicketkeeper-batter will be taken into consideration while selecting the T20 World Cup squad. But with plenty of alternatives at disposal, has Samson fallen off the team management’s radar?
Former India batter Mohammed Kaif feels Samson has got an impressive skill-set but needs to finish the matches. Kaif said the current Royals skipper should come down the order, which can help him thrive going forward.
“Samson has not done justice to the amount of talent he has got. He plays well in the IPL and gets good starts. But he is not consistent despite having that X-factor. He can win the game for India on his day. But I feel Samson can bat a bit lower. My suggestion to Samson would be that he should start finishing the games. I remember his one innings against Delhi Capitals where (Jos) Buttler got a century. Samson got four-five overs and got quick-fire 46,” Kaif said in a virtual interaction hosted by Sony Sports.
In 17 games for the Royals this year, Samson gathered 458 runs at an impressive strike rate of 146.79. The Kerala player will be next seen in action during the Ireland tour where India will play two Twenty20s at Malahide on June 26 and 28.
“Samson should come down the order and finish the game for India and Rajasthan in the future. He has got the talent and skill but hasn’t done justice. He has got the opportunity to play for India but has not grabbed it with both hands. Maybe now he will look to do that if he gets a chance.”
KAIF’S SUPPORT FOR UNDER-FIRE PANT
Kaif heaped praise on Rishabh Pant and predicted he will find his lost mojo soon. In his first-ever stint as India captain, Pant managed just 58 runs in the five innings, which even led to questions being raised about his place in the shortest format. But Kaif believes Pant is very much in the scheme of things.
Kaif, who also served as an assistant coach with Delhi Capitals, backed Pant for the upcoming T20 spectacle but said the upcoming England series will be “crucial” for the 24-year-old stumper, who has been criticised for poor shot selection.
“He will be in the squad. But the England tour will be crucial as an individual, you want to come back into form sooner rather than later because very crucial months are coming up, like the World Cup in October and you want to see Pant firing and playing at his best,” said Kaif.
“Pant has been doing a great job for India. At present, his form is probably not the greatest. He’s got the X-factor, and the skill to do well for India. He’s already done that in his small India career.
“He’s still learning and he’s 24. He’s got a long, long way to go, something which Dravid said that as you want to have players with character and skills who can win the game for India. Pant has done that for India. He’s got the belief, confidence and backing from the management,” he added.