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Sanjay Manjrekar Advocates For Sanju Samson’s Inclusion In India’s T20 World Cup Playing XI
By CricShots - Jun 6, 2024 7:36 pm
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Former Indian cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar has recently commented on the ongoing debate regarding Sanju Samson’s place in the Indian playing XI. Despite Samson’s omission from the starting XI for India’s T20 World Cup opener against Ireland, Manjrekar believes that the wicketkeeper-batter has demonstrated significant maturity and merits a chance to showcase his talent on the world stage.

Sanju Samson
Sanju Samson

Sanjay Manjrekar suggested that if Shivam Dube is not utilized for his bowling, Samson could be an ideal replacement purely based on his batting prowess. “Absolutely right (Sanju should play as the better batter if Dube isn’t going to bowl). I believe Sanju Samson has finally matured and this is the best Sanju Samson that India will get at the international level,” Manjrekar stated to ESPNcricinfo.

Echoing Manjrekar’s sentiments, former Zimbabwean cricketer Andy Flower also supported the idea of Samson featuring in the Indian XI. Flower emphasized that Samson’s batting skills could provide India with a crucial edge, particularly against formidable opponents like Pakistan.

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“I don’t think India are going to use much of Dube’s bowling. So if it’s a straight shootout for batting class, you might want to judge what the matchups are against the opposition bowlers. Could Dube’s ability to hit spin match up well against whatever opposition, or do you need a greater skillset like Sanju has got? He plays the ball late, has beautiful timing, and can play the pull shot, which could be deemed a better technique to use against Pakistan,” Andy Flower elaborated.

Despite his strong performance in IPL 2024, where he finished as the second-highest run-getter for Rajasthan Royals with 531 runs in 15 innings, Samson failed to capitalize on his opportunity in the T20 World Cup warm-up match against Bangladesh, scoring just a single run off six balls. This performance appears to have affected his standing within the team. “That first warm-up game has done a bit of damage to Sanju Samson,”Sanjay Manjrekar observed.

Sanjay Manjrekar
Sanjay Manjrekarmanjrekar

Initially, Sanjay Manjrekar had Samson at No. 3 in his preferred playing XI, but Samson’s failure to perform has made his selection more uncertain. Manjrekar also highlighted Rishabh Pant’s superiority as a wicketkeeper, noting that Pant’s skills with the gloves and his left-handed batting provide more balance and variety to the team.

“On pure keeping, Rishabh Pant is the better keeper. Let’s accept that because Rishabh Pant is your Test keeper and Sanju Samson has never been in contention to take that spot. That first warm-up game has done a bit of damage to Sanju Samson. He was my No. 3 to begin with. I had Rishabh Pant down at No. 5. But Sanju Samson struggled a bit short. That is what happens when you are a fringe player and get small opportunities,” Sanjay Manjrekar added.

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Pant, batting at No. 3, played a crucial role in India’s victory over Ireland, remaining unbeaten on 36 as the Men in Blue chased down a 97-run target in 12.2 overs to secure an eight-wicket win. Flower underscored the importance of Pant’s left-handed ability in providing variety to India’s batting lineup. “Having that balance and variety in your order is important,” Flower noted. He also mentioned that if Yashasvi Jaiswal isn’t included, having Pant at three could be a strategic move.