Time for Samson to translate his IPL success in international arena

Samson is again making headlines in the IPL. (Source: X)

Is it even an IPL season if Sanju Samson isn’t a hot topic of discussion, especially regarding his chances of making it into the Indian T20I squad? In a new year and new season, the same conversation about Samson the star.

It’s been just five games for Samson in this year’s IPL, and he’s once again looking like a million-dollar player, the one in whom Rahul Dravid invested a lot. With 246 runs under his belt at a staggering average of 82 and a strike rate of 157.69, talk has begun swirling about him being the prime candidate for the wicketkeeper-batter slot in the ICC T20 World Cup.

The Kerala-based cricketer has a knack of enthralling Indian cricket fans, particularly with his performances in the IPL. On Wednesday, in Jaipur, he once again showed his class in front of his home crowd. Coming in to bat when the team was struggling after losing early wickets, Samson displayed a blend of composure and aggression, taking on both spinners and pacers with finesse.

Samson began his innings with consecutive boundaries off Umesh Yadav before stepping back to let Riyan Parag take charge. He played the supporting role until the 14th over, not because he struggled to find timing but because he found joy in watching Parag’s masterful display. Against Spencer Johnson, Samson reignited his innings with two fours and a six in the following over. Despite not always executing his scoops and reverse scoops flawlessly, it was effective. In the 17th over, an error from Rahul Tewatia allowed Samson to notch another half-century.

While Parag has excelled against spinners, Samson ensured that the pacers were duly punished, boasting a strike rate of 215.4 against them. Samson’s innings stood out for his adept pacing; the right-handed batter showcased his ability not only to power shots but also to improvise with scoops, sweeps, and reverse sweeps. This is not the first time Samson has played like this this.

Since 2021, Samson has emerged as one of the standout performers in the IPL. Prior to this period, he was often labeled as perennially inconsistent. Throughout the first eight seasons of his IPL career, he managed an average over 30 only twice, frequently failing to live up to expectations despite possessing abundant talent and sublime stroke-making abilities.

However, something changed for Samson in IPL 2021. He began to excel, scoring crucial runs against formidable opponents and garnering attention with his performances. As the current captain of Rajasthan Royals, he has discovered a knack for consistency. Yet, when it comes to donning the blue jersey for India, the narrative changes drastically, especially in T20Is.

Despite his IPL success, Samson has struggled to replicate his form on the international stage, boasting a meager average of just 18.7 in T20Is. It’s perplexing to witness a player of his caliber falter when representing India. It seems that the change in jersey colour weighs heavily on him, despite the format remaining the same.

Following each successful IPL campaign, heightened expectations inevitably accompany any player, and Samson is no exception. However, the moment his name is linked with the Indian team, the stereotype of inconsistency and fleeting brilliance resurfaces.

Nevertheless, Samson’s inclusion in the T20I series against Afghanistan in January indicates that he remains a part of the management’s plans. The significance of the IPL in influencing the decisions of Indian selectors cannot be overstated. Performance in the IPL, undoubtedly, plays a pivotal role in earning a coveted spot in the national team.

Blessed with impeccable timing and a wide array of shots, he has the rare ability to dismantle even the most potent bowling attacks. Whether it’s finding the gaps with precision or dispatching the ball into the stands with effortless ease, Samson possesses all the qualities of a modern-day T20 stalwart.

He has scorched the 2024 season with a bang. In the first five games of the season, Samson has already surpassed his counterparts like Rishabh Pant and Jitesh Sharma in terms of runs scored.

Currently, Samson seems unstoppable, positioning himself as a leading contender for India’s wicket-keeper role. However, his biggest challenge lies in maintaining this level of performance consistently. Failure to do so could see Rishabh Pant easily reclaiming his spot in the Indian team.

While Pant appears to be firmly in the selectors’ plans for the upcoming World Cup, Samson is leaving no stone unturned to ensure he remains in contention and doesn’t get overlooked.