Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala's star batsman Sanju Samson, who produced an absolute blitzkrieg in Sharjah against Chennai Super Kings, blasting a 32-ball 74 for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL on Tuesday, appeared fitter, stronger and charged up.
Making good use of the lockdown, Sanju worked on his fitness and studied the main bowlers of each team and worked out what were the best options.
In the company of his friend and former Kerala and Rajasthan Royals team-mate Raiphi Vincent Gomez, Sanju kept up with a customised training plan with focus on improving strength, agility and flexibility. It helped him improve his bat speed and hitting range.
"The whole credit for my IPL preparations goes to Raifi bhai. He would have thrown the ball at me at least 20,000 times before I headed for Dubai," Sanju said.
During the six-month-long lockdown period, Sanju trained only at the nets. He attended net sessions assuming that he was playing a real match. He visualised everything; opponents, their fielding positions, score-board, etc. Every over was bowled differently, imitating main bowlers of opposition teams. If a mistake happened, he would not leave the ground without rectifying it.
As there was uncertainty over the IPL, Sanju initially trained with red ball to get himself ready for the upcoming domestic season. He switched to white ball once the dates and venues for the IPL were confirmed.
"The results are obvious if you take a look at those sixes he hit in Sharjah. His approach to the game remains the same. If the first ball that he faces in a match deserves to be hit for a six, he would just do that," Raifi, who played for Kochi Tuskers Kerala and Pune Warriors India in the IPL, said.
Taking net practice to a different level
Sanju spent about seven hours daily and six days a week at the nets. When lockdown restrictions were intensified, he started training at the nets on the terrace of Raiphi's house at Nalanchira. Later on, Sanju set up net practice facilities at his apartment. He also trained at the Love All Academy in Vattiyoorkavu.
Shedding that extra flab
During this period, Sanju stuck to a strict diet plan and refrained from non-vegetarian food for two months. He consumed food prepared by expert chefs that met his dietary requirements and was able to lose about six kilos.
Sanju also put in hours of extra training to improve his hitting abilities. With the help of Raifi, he worked on his body balance, head position and bat speed.
"We also did a lot to improve his concentration which helped him ignore all other distractions including the uncertainty over the IPL," added Raifi.