Samson returns to form, keen to don keeping gloves too

After a not-so-memorable 2016-17, for reasons on and off the field, Sanju Samson seems to have found his silken touch once again.

Sanju Samson made his maiden hundred against an international side, in the two-day game between the Board President’s XI and Sri Lanka.   -  NISSAR AHMAD

After a not-so-memorable 2016-17, for reasons on and off the field, Sanju Samson seems to have found his silken touch once again.

The other day at Kolkata, he made his maiden hundred against an international side, in the two-day game between the Board President’s XI and Sri Lanka.

His 128, which he scored off just 143 balls, had come right after the match-winning hundred for Kerala in the Ranji Trophy match against Jammu & Kashmir at Thiruvananthapuram, his hometown.

Read: Samson hogs the limelight

“I was very happy with that innings as it helped Kerala win a crucial game,” Samson told Sportstar. “Scoring the hundred against the Lankans also meant a lot to me.”

The 23-year-old had captained the side and kept the wicket, too. “Captaincy is something I like,” he said. “And I was glad that I could do well behind the stumps as well.”

He said he was working especially hard on his keeping. “I am ready to don the gloves at any time like I was when I stood in for Mohammed Azharuddin in the game against J & K,” he said. “For the last three years, I have been working with Kiran More; I am enjoying keeping more than ever now.”

His decision to pay more attention to keeping could brighten his chances of getting noticed by the national selectors (his only game for the senior Indian team was in 2015, the Twenty20 match against Zimbabwe).

“At the moment, I am only thinking about my forthcoming matches,” he said. “The immediate target is to help Kerala qualify for the knock-out stage.”

The team has a good chance of doing that as it is currently third in Group B. “This is already the best season Kerala has had since I started playing in the Ranji Trophy; we have won three of our four games,” he said.

“Much of the credit for it goes to our coach Dav Whatmore. I have gained a lot working under him. He has advised me to play my natural game, without worrying about anything. And that has helped my batting greatly.”

Whatmore on Samson

He is a special player. Often when you are so talented, the danger is you will be looking to play all the shots you have. It is harder to understand your game. The players who are limited in what they can do could understand their game easier. This boy is exceptional, in a different class altogether. He needs to score consistently more, but that will happen.

 

Kerala has played all its matches on turning tracks this season, yet Samson has been able to come up with useful scores. After getting out for 11 in the first match against Jharkhand, he made 51 and 28 against Gujarat, 42 and 72 against Rajasthan and 112 against J & K.

The effortless way with which he played his strokes against a quality spin attack at Nadiad against Gujarat is fresh in memory. Suffice to say, he seems to have put behind him the horrors of the previous season when he was dropped for a match as a disciplinary action.