Sanju Samson: An Underrated Young Talent from Kerala

 Sanju Samson is a familiar name to those who watch IPL. Yes, Sanju Viswanath Samson, the 21-year-old young wicket-keeper/batsman from Kerala. He was considered to be the next big thing in Indian cricket a little two years ago. But within a span of two years many people forgot him because of some good performances from many young players in different IPL seasons which resulted in maiden call-ups for them in the national limited overs side. But Sanju Samson remains yet to be tested and has not been given enough opportunities to prove his worth.


Samson, who hails from Trivandrum, Kerala, pursued his school education in Delhi. He made his presence felt by his impressive performances at U-13 and U-16 levels for Kerala cricket team. He was the top performer for his team during those days. It resulted in his maiden call-up  from the state Ranji Trophy team at the very young age of 15.


Samson played well in his inaugural Ranji season by scoring two double hundreds. He was the top run-getter at the end of second round during that season. But in the recent few seasons his performances with the red ball was not impressive, so he failed to impress the selectors.


Samson was initially signed for Kolkata Knight Riders in 2012 but he did not get a game. But he impressed everyone in his next season with Rajasthan Royals. In his debut match against Royal Challengers Bangalore he was promoted to no.3 and he scored a well composed half-century. He was adjudged as the man of the match. He is still the youngest player to score a half century in both the IPL and the Champions League T20. The team management kept faith in him and he was one among the four players to be retained for the next season. He was selected as the “Emerging player of the season”.


Samson is a right-handed wicket-keeper/batsman. He is a flexible player who could fit at any position in the batting order, as was evident from his batting positions in IPL, which varied from an opening batsman, to no.3, no.4 or even no.6. Samson is the kind of player who builds his innings by rotating strike initially and when he is set, he shifts the gear and play his shots. Like most players from the subcontinent, he is a good player of spin. He is one of very few young players who play the short ball well.


Quadrangular series in Australia:

Samson was the part of the India A team for the quadrangular series held in Australia. He played some vital knocks for the team under pressure and was the leading run scorer for the team at the end of the series. From thereon he was a regular member of India A and also kept wicket for the team. His flexibility was evident in the bilateral series decider match between India A and Bangladesh A held in 2015. In this fixture, he was promoted to no.3 owing to an injury to Manish Pandey. He came in when the team lost the opening wicket at a crucial stage. He played well scoring a crucial 90 odd runs thus setting a platform for the finishers to come. Eventually India won the match.

Triangular Series in India:

In the recent tri-series final between India A and Australia A, India A were struggling in their chase after losing 5 wickets. The required run rate was still under control and the team desperately needed a partnership. That’s when Samson came in  and supported Gurkeerat Mann Singh by just rotating the strike sensibly and eventually they carried the team over the rope. Samson as a player could take up the responsibility of the team while batting. He proved it in the 2015 Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament where he took his team to victory single-handedly on more than one occasions in the short tournament. Therefore Samson is a player who can provide balance to any side.


After an impressive run in the quadrangular series held in Australia Samson was selected for the limited-overs Indian national side for the tour of India, but he didn’t get a game. In 2015, he was called up as a replacement for the injured Ambati Rayudu during the tour of Zimbabwe, in which India took the opportunity to rest several big names. He played his debut match at Harare in the final T20 match of the tour. Samson came to the crease with India 69-5 in their chase of 146, and his underwhelming knock of 19 off 24 deliveries failed to propel them over the line as the visitors fell to an embarrassing 10-run defeat.


Samson is one of the most underrated talents in India. He has got the potential, as is evident from his stats at this very young age. He is one of the highest-rated young players in IPL; earning a mammoth 4.2 crore fee in the 2016 IPL auction. It is a price he did justice by playing some vital match-winning knocks for the team.

But when compared to the IPL stats, his Ranji Trophy stats are very underwhelming. This shows that he must improve his batting performance with the red ball. However, in the limited overs game, he is the best player under current circumstances to fill the shoes of MS Dhoni following his retirement considering Samson’s young age and flexibility within the team.

Thus Sanju Samson is an under-estimated young talent from Kerala who could become the bright spark of the future Indian cricket team if provided opportunities.