In SRH vs RR match in IPL 2020 all eyes will be on Sanju Samson today. Few flamboyant innings and then back to mediocrity, this has been the story of Samson’s IPL career. The Rajasthan Royals batsman started the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 in a similar fashion. After striking a confident 74 and 85 in the first games in Sharjah, he has failed to reach double figures, let alone a big innings. In four matches played he has scored just 17 runs. His failures have also given rise to Rajasthan Royals’ woes at the top order, chiefly responsible for their last four defeats. So, can Samson return to form against Sunrisers Hyderabad to help RR stay in the title race?
IPL 2020: Why is Sanju Samson struggling?
In last four games, he has been dismissed to a couple of short-pitches deliveries and spin. His failure has also added to RR’s batting woes. Even in 2019, Samson scored 342 runs in 12 innings with only one 50-plus score. While 2018 was comparatively better with 441 runs in 15 games, the 25-year-old managed to play 50-plus knock thrice.
In 2017, he had 386 runs in 14 matches with just one hundred and two 50s. He had amassed 200 runs in three innings. It was the same story in 2016 — couple big knocks and then nothing.
Windies legend Brian Lara believes, it is due to Samson’s difficulty in playing against quality bowling attack or tricky batting wickets.
“Sanju Samson, who is not ’keeping for Rajasthan Royals, but I do understand that he keeps, that’s one of his main jobs very classy player, looks good so far in the tournament in Sharjah. I feel there’s a little chink in his armoury in terms of his technique against very good bowling on sporty tracks,” he said.
IPL 2020: Can he return to form?
Samson received plenty of backing from the cricketing fraternity to play for India after his two ‘Man of the Match’ knocks against Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab. He was hitting the ball cleanly and was instrumental in RR’s consecutive 200+ scores.
The 25-year-old had credited his training during the lockdown for the power-hitting on display.
“I have understood my game. I think it is more of a power-hitting game style and when you come to T20 it becomes a bit more higher. So I was lucky enough to get those four to five months where I was training on my strength and power-hitting prowess. So I think that might have helped me hit more sixes this season,” he said during the press conference.
Samson had made changes to his training regime and focussed mainly on adjusting to the demanding IPL fixtures. He called up Amal Manohar, his college mate at Thiruvanthapuram’s Mar Ivanios College. Manohar – a former national-level athlete before a knee injury ended his career – is now a certified fitness trainer. He has been working closely with other top sportspersons like badminton player HS Prannoy.
The fitness coach tested the RR batsman on four parameters — speed, strength, endurance and agility. The results gave an insight into areas where the 25-year-old needs to focus on.
“We met in April and after conducting the basic test on Sanju, I realised that he was hardly getting time to recover between matches. Therefore, he was carrying the fatigue from the previous match into the next one which was affecting his performance,” he told Indian Express. To overcome this, he devised a training module which helped Samson build muscle mass, become stronger, improve his agility. And the hard work which he put during the lockdown, the Kerela-born did reap fruits initially.
Why Sanju Samson return to form is important for RR’s resurrection?
Samson holds a very important place in the RR batting department. Playing as No.3 or 4, his main role is to help the team get to a big total, if the top-order falters. And he did perform the role well but only for the first two games.
RR who are now placed second from the bottom in IPL points table will want their hard-hitting talent to return to form against Sunrisers Hyderabad. How does it solve the batting woes?
If the young Yashaswi Jaiswal and Joe Butler fail to give the team a good start, he can partner-up with captain Steve Smith to do it. Moreover, it will also set the stage for the likes of Rahul Tewatia and Ben Stokes to end the innings on a positive note. Stokes is expected to return for the match against SRH on Sunday in Dubai International Stadium.