WI vs IND: Chance for Sanju Samson to get his name into the ODI World Cup 2023 mix

By Kingshuk Kusari: India wicket-keeper batter Sanju Samson is a story of unfulfilled potential. Samson's position in Indian cricket divides opinions to the extent that it encourages some strongly-worded rants from experts and fans. Some argue for his permanent position in the Indian team, while others point out that the batter has not done enough to get an extended run.

Samson, now almost 29, currently captains Rajasthan Royals and is an established face in the Indian cricketing circles. He is transitioning into one of those cult figures who have a loyal set of fans, rallying around him in highs and lows. It is not a surprise that Samson's inclusion in the ODI squad was well received by the social media who felt that it was high time to bring the wicket-keeper back into the team, despite the fact that he does not keep regularly in the domestic circles for his state team.

India Squad for West Indies

There is, however, another line of thought that argues that Samson has been mysteriously sidelined by the Indian team, despite a sensational average of 66 after playing 11 matches. And one can definitely see the sense in that. Samson will be vying for a place in the playing XI alongside Ishan Kishan, the swashbuckling left-hander who took the world by storm since his debut in the IPL.

ODI World Cup 2023

To put things into context, this should be viewed as an extremely important trip for Samson, who has the least competition in the wicket-keeping department in years, ahead of the all-important ODI World Cup 2023, set to be played in India in the months of October and November.

With Rishabh Pant out of the equation and KL Rahul struggling with back to back injuries, Samson, realistically only has to beat Ishan Kishan for the spot. There are other candidates of course, but Kishan is the only established player, who could get an extended run ahead of the world tournament. The injury to Shreyas Iyer also puts Samson in a favourable position. With his ability to bat well against both spin and pace, things have fallen right into the lap of the Rajasthan Royals skipper, who must have been desperate to make a return to the Indian team.

Rich Vein of Form

Samson was finally given an extended run by the Indian management in 2022. He scored 284 runs from 9 innings, averaging 71.00 at a strike-rate of 105.57. Samson will be in familiar territory at West Indies, his comeback series in 2022 where he scored one half-century.

Samson did not exactly blow hot and cold after that but did enough for him to make a place in the ODI series against Zimbabwe, South Africa and New Zealand. Against SA at home, Samson showed what he was capable of, scoring 86*, however in a losing cause.

The batter will once again have a chance to prove his credentials against a West Indies side who are not at their threatening best at the moment. This series could be a make or break for Samson, given a strong performance here could set him up for a permanent position going into the ODI World Cup 2023, and with the competition slightly less in the middle order, the batter could fit well into India's scheme of things.

Captain's Promise

Samson had the backing of India captain Rohit Sharma ahead of the T20 World Cup 2022, where Rohit went into a lot of details explaining the brilliance of the right-hander.

“As a team management, we see lot of potential, we see lot of talent and we see lot of match-winning abilities in that individual (Sanju Samson)," said Rohit Sharma during the build-up to the T20 World Cup.

“I hope we give him that confidence when he gets playing for us, and whenever he gets an opportunity I hope he understands that and definitely he is under consideration, which is why he is part of this team," the India captain had said.

“His back-foot play is superb, some of the shots you must have seen during the IPL, the pick-up pull, the cut shots, standing and delivering over bowler’s head. Those kinds of shots are not easy to play and I believe when we go to Australia, you need those kind of shot-making ability and Samson does has it in him. I just hope that he utilises his potential to the maximum," the captain had further added.

India did not need his services for the T20 World Cup 2022, but Sharma's words made it clear that the team management saw Samson as a real fixture in the playing XI. In case Samson can utilise the West Indies series, he could have a real shot at playing the ODI World Cup and shake off the long-term tag of a promise unfulfilled.


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