ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

To Sanju, or Not to Sanju – Indian Cricket’s Perpetual Catch-22 Returns

Ahead of a crucial few months for the Indian cricket team, Sanju Samson's perplexing Catch-22 has re-emerged.

Updated
Cricket
4 min read
story-hero-img
i
Aa
Aa
Small
Aa
Medium
Aa
Large
Hindi Female

Sanju Samson has – in an international career spanned across eight years so far, but with only 35 appearances – taken 19 catches. Should he grab three more in the upcoming three-match T20I series against Ireland, the tally will be in perfect synchronisation with the paradox echoing his time with the Indian cricket team – Catch-22.

The Sanju Samson Cycle, Explained: Phase 1

Exactly a year ago, at a time when the T20 World Cup was around the corner, India toured the Caribbean and American shores, for a five-match T20I series. Samson was given two opportunities – he scored an unbeaten 23-ball 30 in one game, and an 11-ball 15 in the other.

The numbers, albeit not catastrophic, did not particularly set the world on fire, with the selectors ultimately deciding against offering the 28-year-old a place in the T20 World Cup squad.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Disappointment ensued – India succumbed to a 2-1 series defeat, with Suryakumar Yadav scoring ducks in all three matches.

Expostulation ensued – Disgruntled fans raised their voices for Samson’s re-inclusion in the team.

Ratification ensued – Samson found his place back in India’s limited-overs squad.

Phase 2

Over the next few months, the wicketkeeper-batter represented India on five occasions. These were his scores:

  • 86* (63) vs South Africa – ODI

  • 30* (36) vs South Africa – ODI

  • 2* (4) vs South Africa – ODI

  • 36 (38) vs New Zealand – ODI

  • 5 (6) vs Sri Lanka – T20I

The numbers were not underwhelming enough to warrant an expulsion, and accordingly, it did seem that Samson will be getting an extended run in the squad. Yet, an unfortunate injury in the last of those five appearances halted his establishment procedure.
0

Phase 3

Two years later, when the squad was announced for the ODI series against Australia, Samson could not find his name on the sheet. The same cycle continued.

Disappointment ensued – India succumbed to a 2-1 series defeat, with Suryakumar Yadav scoring ducks in all three matches.

Expostulation ensued – Disgruntled fans raised their voices for Samson’s re-inclusion in the team.

Ratification ensued – Samson found his place back in India’s limited-overs squad.

Ahead of a crucial few months for the Indian cricket team, Sanju Samson's perplexing Catch-22 has re-emerged.

Having dropped Sanju Samson, India suffered a series defeat against Australia earlier this year.

(Photo: BCCI)

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Phase 4

A year later, Samson found himself back to square, with the Indian team touring the Caribbean and American shores again. Once again, a World Cup is around the corner, albeit in a different format. Once again, it was discernible that exemplary performances will result in a firm inclusion in the selection meetings for the World Cup squad. 

For all the desertion he has faced so far, the stage was perfectly set for Samson to nail his name down on the Indian team. He played seven matches, batting in five of those games. The returns were:

  • 9 (19) – ODI

  • 51 (41) – ODI

  • 12 (12) – T20I

  • 7 (7) – T20I

  • 13 (9) – T20I

Ahead of a crucial few months for the Indian cricket team, Sanju Samson's perplexing Catch-22 has re-emerged.

Sanju Samson's numbers were underwhelming in the West Indies series.

(Photo: BCCI)

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD
The All India Men’s Selection Committee is now presented with a Catch-22. One option would be to give Samson the axe again, for the umpteenth time. That, there will be an inundation of reactionary criticism should his alternate option misfire at the World Cup, is inevitable.

The other option would be to present him with another extended run. Indeed, despite the current run of form not eliciting confidence, Samson’s ODI average is 55.71, with his strike rate being 104.00.

The upcoming three matches against a comparatively much weaker opponent in Ireland should not be a judging parameter, and with Asia Cup being two weeks, and World Cup being two months away, time has arrived to take a call on Samson.

Prima facie, based on numbers and not the undisputable talent that Samson possesses, it does that he will have to sit out. Again.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

To Sanju vs Not to Sanju

It was known that the West Indies series will be a litmus test for Samson, and if that narrative is to be continued, there was not much promise shown by the batter.

Being handed a chance in the second ODI, he came into bat with the foundation stone being firmly laid by the opening pair of Ishan Kishan and Shubman Gill. The score read – 90/1.

Before he could find his feet, the likes of Romario Shepherd and Gudakesh Motie wreaked havoc, as from a position of dominance, India found themselves struggling at 113/4. The stage could not have been any better to play a match-defining knock and become the saviour, but in the very next delivery following skipper Hardik Pandya’s dismissal, Samson lost his wicket.
ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

India went on to lose that match, before winning the next game by a gargantuan 200-run margin. Herein, Samson did score a half-century, but was far from being the team’s highlight, with three batters – Kishan, Gill and Pandya – scoring more.

If anything, that knock meant Samson will be a mainstay for the five T20Is, but the subsequent series did not go according to plans.

Samson got batting opportunities in three of those games, and be it an unfortunate coincidence or a major indication, India ended up on the losing side in all of those matches. Overall, Samson scored 32 runs in 28 deliveries.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD
An argument in Samson’s favour could be his unfavourable role, with India utilising him in number five and six – positions that are not tailor-made in accordance with the player’s fortes.

Samson’s Indian Premier League (IPL) numbers will show he is most effective at number three, and barely effective as a ‘finisher’, whilst his only T20I half-century came when he batted as an opener.

The current Indian set-up, however, does not have a vacancy in any top-order role, with the solitary offer being a mould-or-move-on middle-order position. Having not moulded himself yet, the selectors might now opt to move on.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read Latest News and Breaking News at The Quint, browse for more from sports and cricket

Published: 
Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Member Benefits
Read More
×
×