At the moment, Samson is doing it way better than Pant sans the brute power.
Trent Boult had just befuddled Ben Stokes with a classic Test cricket-level delivery on a seaming wicket in Rajasthan’s homecoming after a two year ban.
In walked Sanju Samson, oozing with talent, a delight to watch, but somehow a firm believer of the James Vince way of playing cricket – settling in and then throwing it away.
The second ball he faced was a good length delivery shaping in a touch. Nonchalant and with the ease of plucking an old flower, Samson moved forward and met the ball while turning his bat to place it through the off-side. The fielders watched helplessly as the ball scurried through to the fence.
If ever you plan to show videos to your kids on batting, this should figure in your list, even if Samson isn’t the Bradman or Kohli of this generation.
A ball later, he would smash Boult tennis-style in front of square with a bludgeoning pull shot. The young man was up and running. In 22 balls, he showed everything you would ask for from a young batsman. There were the power shots, the deft touches and picking the gaps.
The 37 runs he scored was enough to earn him a Man of the Match award. Only few days earlier, Samson, rejoining his initial IPL franchise, had top-scored with a 42 ball 49 in Sunrisers Hyderabad’s den in Rajasthan’s first match of the tournament.
Yet, on both occasions, he couldn’t quite help his side to a great total with his glossy batting and oodles of talent. There were sparks of brilliance; there always had been. But it did not quite bear the fruit fans were hoping for.
On the other side of the realm is Rishabh Pant, the flashy poster boy among wicket-keepers in line to replace MS Dhoni. Owner of some jaw-dropping records, Pant has been the toast of the nation courtesy his sensational ball striking. You can almost hear the whistle of his bat swing over Hotstar even when your mom has serials in full volume on television.
Pant’s under-19 and Ranji Trophy exploits literally divided people into two sections – the ones who wanted Dhoni in the T20I side and the ones who didn’t.
Such was Dhoni’s dominance over the years that a secondary keeper creeping up behind him was unheard of. And here was a belligerent, incredibly strong lad reminiscent of the Dhoni of long-mane-days making rapid strides towards the national team.
What Pant lacked in technique, he made up for with brute power. When the chips were down he invariably led the team with his incredible hitting. From smashing a mesmeric triple hundred in the Ranji to breaking the fastest half-century record, Pant did it all.
He was, for many, the ultimate successor and rightly so. Even a 20% justification he does to his wonderful talent would see him make a fabulous cricketer but at the moment, Pant seems to be going the wrong route.
Analyse his four T20I innings’ for India and you get a clearer picture. He was unbeaten in one, but in the remaining three, Pant was dismissed going after one shot too many. This seems to be a trend for the youngster. While his slog sweeps are great to watch, when he gets it wrong it travels the height but not really the distance as what happened against Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur.
The ruckus surrounding him is understandable but for him to come any closer to replacing Dhoni, Pant must embrace his game while fiddling around with the nuances of game situations.
At the moment, Samson is doing it way better than Pant sans the brute power. The young man from Kerala is a treat to watch for the old school cricket lovers and would do much better if he could stick to his game rather than cater to the wildest fantasies of the T20 crowd.
It is bizarre that Samson isn’t seen in the same light as Pant despite his overpowering couple of seasons in the IPL. When batting at the top of the order, Samson and Pant have both competed neck to neck with each other as evidenced during the IPL last year where they both represented Delhi Daredevils.
A clear successor isn’t in sight right now with both these awe-inspiring talents having flaws of their own, but the hullabaloo surrounding Pant has clearly helped Samson stay from the limelight and make runs in his own, flamboyant manner.
He isn’t your everyday day slogger but given chances and proper guidance, Samson could be one of those talents commentators sit back, enjoy and forget to commentate on. However, in spite of all his ludicrous shot selections in untimely situations, Pant seems to be leading the way in the back-up queue. Shouldn’t some of the attention fall on Samson too? #KhabarLive