When Rishabh Pant arrived on the international scenes in 2017, there was plenty of cheer all around. He made his debut in Test cricket the following year and a berth in ODIs was also handed months later. Talks had floated regarding his attributes as an aggressive player, who could make his presence felt and be a match-winner India so desperately needed. Former players and several fans voiced their opinions and Pant became the face we all wanted to see.
In Test cricket, Pant did impress in parts, scoring two tons. However, it was the white-ball cricket where his graph fell tremendously. Averaging 26.71 in ODIs and 20.50 in T20Is saw Pant waste chance after chance. The 2019 World Cup was a prime example and several bilateral series too saw the player come in get started and then waste it with poor shot-making.
Pant’s Team India journey was stalled in limited-overs and since January 2020, KL Rahul has been given the wicket-keeping role. On a similar note, the promising Sanju Samson is another player like Pant, who earned his name in the Indian Premier League, besides domestic cricket for Kerala. Many felt Samson could fill the hole Pant couldn’t and being a keeper things looked sorted.
Samson is also versatile and his clean striking of the ball is known to all. Another player with plenty of potential and promise. Former cricketer Gautam Gambhir praised Samson on numerous accounts and backed his inclusion. To see what he has to offer, Team India management gave Samson the desired break in T20Is earlier this year. He got a chance against Sri Lanka, followed by two matches against New Zealand and now three games in the recently concluded series against Australia.
Seven matches in, Samson has only managed scores of 6, 8, 2, 23, 15 and 10. In the series against Australia, Samson got the platform to express himself and bat in situations he fathoms so well. Yet, his patterns of dismissals were similar. India won the first two T20Is and somehow Samson’s shortcomings weren’t highlighted. However, in the third match when India needed him to just rotate the strike and support skipper Virat Kohli, the talented Samson failed.
Chasing 186, India needed Samson’s energy and big-hitting at the death. He had the time to settle down when Dhawan was dismissed. Yet a few deliveries later, Samson paid the price for failing to read the situation. You cannot have players in the side who promise the word called potential. You need performances.
Just look at T Natarajan, who from a net bowler got a rare chance and took it with both hands. Samson looks a lot similar to that of Pant in approach and with the T20 World Cup next year, he may well go down the same road as Pant. Seven games and seven failures are a bit too much to take. Samson isn’t ready at this level and it’s obvious.