He is still waiting for his 12th class results. He returns from the First Class matches not to rest and recover but to study and pass his academic rubber. At 18 years and 171 days, he is the youngest to be playing this IPL. But he doesn't let the boy in him affect his performances. Very mature for his age, one who manages his temperament in an exemplary manner and someone who is very willing to shoulder responsibility, meet Sanju Viswanath Samson, the latest IPL propelled tennage sensation.
On Monday (29th April), when the very unassuming Samson played a whirlwind knock of 63 from just 41balls to take his side Rajasthan Royals home against the mighty Royal Challengers Bangalore, he gave out an expression that had the right mix of elation and hope. He was not proving a point to anyone, he was just reinforcing the fact that he wasn't a bad induction. His shots exuded grace and his timing and placement was so very exquisite. Especially the two SIXES that he hit off Murali Karthik were sheer poetry in motion. This innings not only won him the Man of the Match award but also made him a household name across the country. Not many knew about him till then. Infact, like IPL does to many, another unknown entity got his branding done and his price tag vindicated, courtesy the gutsy and pugnacious innings that he played.
But if this innings established his reputation, the wicket keeper batsman surely showed sparks of brilliance in his debut IPL game versus the KingsXI Punjab 16 days prior to this game when he had latched 3 catches behind the stumps and stitched a pivotal 47 run unbroken partnership with Rahane that made sure Rajasthan Royals won the game with 4 balls to spare. He made the most of the opportunity that came his way totally unplanned and unexpected. Had their regular wicketkeeper Dishant Yagnik recovered from his injury on time, Rajasthan Royals would have played him ahead of Samson and the 18 year old would have had to wait a lot longer to make his debut. But call it a stroke of luck and Samson not just got the opportunity but also made the most of it.
Hailing from Kerala, Samson made his debut for Kerala on November3, 2011 at the tender age of 17.In 2012, he was a member of the Kolkata Knight Riders' players pool but didn't quite get a chance to play. His next big break came when he was selected in India's Under-19 side for the Asia Cup. However, his poor run in Malaysia, where he scored just 14 runs in three games, saw him lose his place in the Under-19 World Cup squad for Australia. He saw his failures only as his stepping stones towards success and self motivated himself to have an impressive domestic season in 2012-2013 scoring a humungous 722 runs from 10 innings that included 2 centuries. His 222 versus Delhi in the Vijay Hazare Trophy was epic and showed forth the true potential of the lad.
In the 2013 season of the IPL, he signed on for the Rajasthan Royals and thanks to his senior statemate Sreesanth, he got picked from amongst the talent pool of players alongwith his Ranji colleague Sachin Baby. His father Viswanath recalls how Samson's morale got huge fillip after Sreesanth became his friend and advisor. The Chairman of the selectors of Kerala's Ranji Trophy team, RKV Gopakumar said "We are all happy that our state has produced another hugely talented cricketer and wish he goes the full distance".
And hours after the new posterboy of IPL scripted a "career changing" knock, Sanju Samson was a star on Facebook as well. His timeline showed a number of pictures of him in cricket gear and those of his friends. Many well-wishers poured in their compliments on his IPL showing.
He is young, he is raw, he is hungry for success and he is a storehouse of some brilliant talent. Let's wish Sanju Samson a successful career. May he go on to play for Team India and one day when he kisses the horizon of achievement and his eyes give out tears of joy, the readers of this article would know that even they had a hand in making this boy wonder a well chiseled cricketer.