(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Published: Mon 18 Sep 2023, 8:58 PM
In a candid interview with Indian player Sanju Samson, I had the opportunity to see how cool and calm the Rajasthan Royals captain is as a person.
I was not sure if he would be able to speak in Hindi, but was bowled over by his command over India's official language.
And when I asked him where he learned such good Hindi, he smiled sheepishly and said: "As much as you need cricket talent, you also need to know Hindi to survive in Indian cricket!"
Sanju started his IPL career with Rajasthan Royals in 2013 and won the emerging player award in his first season.
When Rajasthan Royals were suspended for two years, he moved to Delhi Daredevils and scored a hundred off just 63 balls to become the second youngest player to do so.
Sanju was brought back by Rajasthan Royals in 2018. Since then he has been the face of the team.
His life changed when he was made captain of Rajasthan Royals in 2021 and in the very second year took his franchise to the final in 2022. But they were beaten by Gujarat Titans in the final.
When I asked him why he decided to bat first in that final, he said the grass which was there on the pitch in the second qualifier when they beat Royal Challengers Bangalore, was shaved off.
But the decision backfired as the Royals managed just 130 for nine in 20 overs, a total the Titans chased down in 18.3 overs, losing only three wickets.
He was so disappointed with the loss that he went to Australia to switch off as the defeat took a toll on him.
But Sanju praised the wonderful team culture in Rajasthan Royals and revealed his special bond with England superstar Jos Buttler and Indian leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.
I could not but ask him about Riyan Parag, who has been backed by the Royals despite a string of low scores.
But Sanju said the team management rates the 21-year-old batter with a special talent for hitting big sixes, very highly.
I have to admit that I was tempted to ask Sanju if he was hurt by the decision of the Indian selectors who ignored him for the World Cup.
I didn't because there is always a line that you should never cross when interacting with an accomplished athlete.
Sanju is a special player who averages 55 with the bat in one-day internationals. He just happens to play at a time when Indian cricket has an embarrassment of riches.
But there is still time for September 28, the final day for teams to make changes to their World Cup squads.
We do not yet know if Sanju makes it to the squad on the deadline day, but what we do know is that no one can ignore his talent for long.
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