Could Sanju Samson be T20 World Cup X-Factor?

Sanju Samson started IPL 2024 with a half-century (Photo: IPL/X)

Sanju Samson has been one of the most talented players around. And yet, he himself would agree that he hasn’t done justice to all this potential. 

I, for one, was extremely excited seeing Samson play the kind of shots he did the other night. He carted the ball to all corners of the ground and reached his 50 with a very good strike-rate. Samson has been consistent in this IPL and has staked a strong claim for the wicketkeeper’s position in the Indian team for the T20 World Cup in June. 

Whether Samson should be there can also be answered if we look at some of the other options available. KL Rahul, who is making a comeback, has been excellent as leader but isn’t at his best just yet as a batter. It takes time to hit top gear, and Rahul could just need a bit more of it. Rishabh Pant has looked excellent in patches, but will again take time to be at his best. While Pant is surely an option, my argument is that he could need a bit more time to ease himself into best shape. 

Ishan Kishan was excellent the other night, but can India have him open? With Yashasvi Jaiswal and Rohit Sharma at the top and Virat Kohli at No. 3, those slots seem to be taken. Also there is the Shubman Gill option at the top of the order. Jitesh Sharma hasn’t really fired in the IPL, yet, and could find it hard from here to get a spot. In such a scenario, Samson is surely a strong contender. In 2023, he was unlucky not to be a part of the Asian Games squad. In fact, he should have been there in China. He deserved better, and cases like these could end up impacting a player’s mental health. Hopefilly, Samson finds a way back soon by scoring loads of runs, for that would be the best way to deal with the situation. 

We need Samson the match-winner for India. And I say this because he has the ability in the T20 format. A match-winning cameo or a 30-ball 50 is very much on with Samson around, and that’s often all you need in T20 cricket. You only ask for better things from someone if he is good enough. Samson is, and that’s where the argument stems from. 

Sanju Samson, Rohit Sharma and Yuzuvenra Chahal
Sanju Samson, Rohit Sharma and Yuzuvenra Chahal (PC: RR/X)

A number of people have suggested on social media that fans and analysts are backing Pant because of the emotion surrounding his comeback. And that Pant hasn’t played a big knock either. The issue here is not Samson or Pant. The issue is India. By dividing ourselves, we tend to lose focus of the big picture. And the big picture is India has to have the best chance of winning an ICC trophy with the team it puts together. And India’s preparation hasn’t been ideal with all the injuries. 

While the return of Jasprit Bumrah is a matter of huge relief and jubilation, the other bowlers haven’t looked the part in the absence of Mohammed Shami. While Bumrah is back, Mohammed Siraj, Arshdeep Singhand most others have been inconsistent. That’s what brings the focus back to the batting. In fact, Shreyas Iyer and Rahul aren’t there yet, and that’s what brings me to Samson. 

India might need him to play a critical role. Batting at No. 4 or 5, Samson could well be the go-to man if India lose early wickets in one of the games. And if he has the confidence of getting the big knocks and wins it for India, could it be any better? Hope he continues with this form in the IPL, for that will surely set him up for World Cup selection.