Timing, brute force, or easy power. Among the three, easy power is the rarest quality among batsmen. Many can find the middle of the bat more often than not. Some depend on their strength to muscle balls over boundaries. But only a few can hit the distance with minimum effort. They don’t slog the ball and every scoring shot looks like just an extension of a routine one.
Rohit Sharma and AB de Villiers are the two stalwarts who showcase easy power consistently. They don’t seem to hit any shot in anger but look elegant every time. One name that can be added to this exclusive list is Sanju Samson. He doesn’t have the records as the other two but the rare ability he possesses is there for everyone to see.
In Rajasthan’s first game of the season against Chennai on Tuesday, Samson played a scintillating knock of 74 runs off just 32 balls. And the ease with which he ended up hitting nine sixes shows the superior ball-hitting quality he has.
Sharjah is a smaller ground and hitting sixes is easier here than in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. But that’s not the point. The thing about Samson’s batting, the thing that makes one stand up and notice is the consistent clean hitting and the grace along with it.
He started by pulling Sam Curran and Deepak Chahar for maximums, before hitting Ravindra Jadeja and Piyush Chawla over the ropes repeatedly. Their combined figures read 95 runs in 8 overs with a solitary wicket. His innings put Rajasthan in the driving seat and the total set proved beyond the reach of Chennai.
For all his talent though, Samson isn’t a player who comes to mind when one thinks of the best batsmen in India currently. He isn’t exactly a marquee player, and the reason for that, of course, is his inconsistency.
Having made his IPL debut in 2013, Samson has crossed the 400-run mark in just one season. Time and again, he has delivered odd breathtaking knocks, like the one he played on Tuesday. The fact that he has two centuries to his name shows he can score big. But to elevate his status, he needs to do a lot more than offering just flashes of brilliance.
Sanju Samson’s Indian T20 League Batting Record
The search for a long-term occupant of the wicketkeeper’s slot in India’s limited-overs side is on ever since Mahendra Singh Dhoni last played in Indian colors. KL Rahul is doing the job for now on the back of his brilliant batting form. But Samson is a seasoned wicket-keeper, and an improved show in batting can bring him back in the race for the role.
Samson has played just 4 T20Is for India since making his debut way back in 2015, with 19 being his highest score. He played three T20Is earlier this year – one against Sri Lanka and two in New Zealand – but couldn’t get a double-digit score in any of them.
A massive season in the league would undoubtedly help his cause. The 200s or 300s in a season won’t cut it anymore. He needs to get close to the top of the batting charts. He needs to have a 500 or 600 run season. He needs to make a statement.
Former Indian batsman Gautam Gambhir tweeted this after the match: “Sanju Samson is not just the best wicket-keeper batsman in India but the best young batsman in India!” Steve Smith, one of the finest batsmen of this generation, said after Tuesday’s game. “Felt like everything he was hitting went for six. I was just giving Sanju strike, wasn’t I? He was middling everything.”
With two T20 World Championships in the next two years, Samson will hope this is his year to shine and make a name at the world stage.
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