Full name Sanju Viswanath Samson
Born November 11, 1994, Pulluvila, Vizhinjam, Trivandrum
Playing role Wicketkeeper batsman
Batting style Right-hand bat
Fielding position Wicketkeeper
He is seen as the next biggest thing in Kerala. Sanju Samson is a fine wicket-keeper batsman, who is sound in technique, both with bat and behind the stumps. He made his first-class debut at the age of 17 for Kerala against Vidarbha.
He made an impact almost immediately as he scored two hundreds and a fifty in five appearances the next season. He was signed by Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in 2012 but he did not get a game. It was for the Rajasthan Royals that Samson made a name for himself in the IPL.
He was sent to the UAE to represent the country in the Under-19 World Cup and he did not disappoint the selectors. He was the top run-getter for India and was the only player in the side to hit three fifties. In fact, he finished 6th in the list of batsmen with most runs in the entire tournament despite India not qualifying to the semi-final.
When Dravid was mentoring the Royals in IPL-7, he spoke highly of Samson and added that he is one of the players in the current lot, who will excel for India in the near future. Consistent performances in the IPL meant, Samson was picked for the Zimbabwe tour in 2015. He made his first appearance for India in a T20 game, where he scored 19.
Dravid once again showed his faith when he was the head coach of Delhi Daredevils, he picked up Samson in the 2016 IPL auctions and the wicket-keeper repaid it by becoming the third highest run-scorer for his team. He was picked for the India A tour of Australia and played a few handy knocks, which helped them win the quadrangular series involving Australia A, South Africa A and National Performance Squad. During the 2014-15 season, the Keralite had gone so high up the pecking order that he was expected to be a successor to MS Dhoni as India’s gloveman. Sadly, his fortunes was plummeted since then.
Samson’s game hasn’t really gone up the way it should have, considering the natural talent that he possesses. While he is capable of playing jaw-dropping strokes all around the ground, his temperament continues to be that of a rookie despite gaining experience in the domestic circuit. It’s an area that Samson needs to correct at the earliest, if he harbors hopes of being a successful international cricketer. He’s gotten very few chances so far for India, and hasn’t clicked in those. Competition with the more explosive Rishabh Pant who can bat at any position means that Samson needs to be on his toes.
IPL through the years
A stylish shotmaker who also keeps wickets, Sanju Samson was initially part of the Kolkata Knight Riders but never got any opportunities there. It was his stint at the Rajasthan Royals that enabled him to showcase his talent to the world. During the 2013-15 phase, he was one of the vital cogs of the RR batting line-up, lending stability with his solid gameplay and also helping them accelerate with his sizzling strokeplay. Temperamental issues aside, Samson was considered a future superstar and his IPL exploits even saw him rise rapidly in the pecking order to be MS Dhoni’s successor.
However, over the years, he has never had that breakthrough season which would help him to push his case forward. Often, Samson would start an IPL season with a flurry of impressive scores, only to fizzle out as the tournament progressed. Lack of interest in glovework in domestic cricket set him back considerably and by the time he restarted being a gloveman, he had slipped a lot in the category of India’s wicketkeeper batsmen. A short stint with Delhi further saw Samson exhibiting his strengths but the weaknesses too remained the same over the last five years. He got back to RR at the fresh auctions in 2018 and another underwhelming season ensued after it had began well, again. 2019 wasn’t all that different either, and this will frustrate Sanju no end.
Samson continues to be one of RR’s mainstays in the middle order and given that he is a domestic recruit, adds more value as it allows the franchise to spread the overseas players in other departments. Samson is still in search of that one big standout IPL season that shall take his game to the next level.
BATTING & FIELDING STATS