Sanju Samson probably had more reasons to prove his worth in the ODI series against South Africa than any other player in the team. Hailed for his batting ability earlier this year which Rohit Sharma felt that would have been apt for India in Australian conditions for the T20 World Cup, Samson received limited opportunities post IPL 2022 before being excluded for both the Asia Cup and the World Cup. Hence, as inconsequential this ODI series might be, for Samson, it was yet another reason to prove. And he did deliver, with his best ever ODI score but failed to take India past the target on Thursday in Lucknow. But Samson was hailed for his act by the legends of the game.
India lost both their openers, Shikhar Dhawan and Shubman Gill, in the powerplay for just eight runs un 5.1 overs. The hosts were further reduced to 51 for four in 17.4 overs in their chase of 250.
In the company of Shreyas Iyer, Samson began his innings and provided some stability to India’s score as they pulled off a valiant 67-run stand before the former departed shortly after scoring his half-century. Samson then opened up alongside Shardul Thakur, who had a good day with the bat and with the ball. After picking two wickets for 35 in eight overs, Thakur smashed five boundaries in his 31-ball 33 while Samson too began notching up boundaries and sixes. But the target was always too far for India and despite Samson’s best ever effort in ODIs – a 63-ball unbeaten 86 – India lost by nine runs in the series opener.
Moments after the knock, legends of the game took to Twitter to hail Samson for his valiant effort. Here is how they reacted…
“Quite proud of the way the boys played the game, we didn’t get a good start, the way Shreyas, Samson and Shardul batted was excellent. We gave away too many runs on a wicket that swung and spun, the fielding wasn’t great, but this was a good learning experience for us,” said captain Dhawan at the end of the match.