Team India, unexpectedly, had a tough time during the limited-overs series in Sri Lanka. Despite missing a number of their key players, the side led by Shikhar Dhawan were favourites to get the better of the hosts in both the ODIs and the T20Is. India easily managed to defeat Sri Lanka in the one-dayers. However, their preparations for the T20I series were completely thrown out of gear after all-rounder Krunal Pandya tested COVID-19 positive ahead of the second T20I. With COVID forcing nine players into isolation, non-regular members of the team got a chance. But most of them failed to deliver, the biggest disappointment of them being Sanju Samson.
Samson played in the final ODI of the three-match series, which marked his one-day debut and made a handy 46. He also got a chance to feature in all three matches of the T20I series but, sadly, failed to grab the massive opportunities. The Kerala cricketer managed poor returns for 27, 7 and 0 in the three-match T20I series, which India ended up losing. More than the numbers, it was how Samson kept getting dismissed that exasperated the fans and experts. In the first T20I, he got a start and was looking good before he completely misread Wanindu Hasaranga and was trapped in front. In the second and third match as well, he was foxed by spin and fell to tame dismissals.
Attitude problem or plain bad luck?
Now, not a single person who has seen Samson bat will disagree with the fact that the cricketer has genuine potential. But talent is only a part of success, which cannot be achieved without having the right attitude. Is there something wrong with Samson’s approach to the game when it comes to international cricket? Perhaps. The biggest takeaway from the Sri Lanka series for Samson is that he needs to get mentally stronger for the challenges of international cricket. As of now, irrespective of his talent, he just doesn’t seem ready.
Reviewing his performance, former Pakistan captain Salman Butt said on his YouTube channel that, according to him, Samson seems like a lazy and casual batsman, who, at least as of now, doesn’t possess the temperament for the big stage. While Butt’s observation of Samson may not be factually correct, he does have a valid point. For the layman, Samson looks like someone who is just there to make the numbers. Take his dismissal in the final T20I to Hasaranga as a reference point. Samson played an atrocious shot. He knew he wasn’t picking the spinner and, India were already in big trouble in the match. Yet, played one across the line and displayed shoddy footwork to be dismissed embarrassingly. The nothing stroke summed up the tour for Samson. He was clueless and lost.
Not learning from his mistakes in Australia
What has enraged the Indian fans even further is the fact that Samson has been throwing away opportunity after opportunity. Before the series in Sri Lanka, he played three T20Is in Australia but on all three occasions, he flattered to deceive. There was a pattern to Samson’s dismissals in Australia. He came in, tonked a couple of deliveries and then played a horrible slog to get out. Similar to the Sri Lanka series, he registered disappointing scores of 23, 15 and 10 in the series Down Under. Not surprisingly, he was dropped from the team after that.
Following his no show in Sri Lanka, Samson’s selection for the T20 World Cup looks highly unlikely. Even if he performs in the IPL, the selectors will be apprehensive of placing their trust in him for such a massive tournament. Samson is only 26 and can still make a career out of playing for India. First and foremost though, he needs to get his attitude in order and demonstrate the desired hunger, determination and above all, pride, while stepping onto the field for India.