There is nothing more frustrating than to see real talent not realising its potential.
Kerala cricket's biggest hope Sanju Samson's career has so far has been a classic example for this.
The strokeplayer has set the stage on fire at some point in every Indian Premier League (IPL) season since 2013. However, invariably he has failed to deliver consistent performances in a single edition of the IPL.
The ongoing IPL in the UAE has been no different. Sanju began in style as he smashed a 32-ball 74 in Rajasthan Royals' opening match against Chennai Super Kings. On a small Sharjah ground, the right-hander went on a six-hitting spree as he blasted nine sixes and a four.
His innings went a long way in Royals securing a 16-run win. Sanju was in sensational hitting form and his shot-making received great appreciation from none other than Sachin Tendulkar. Former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir even went on to hail Sanju as the best young batsman in the country.
Sanju followed it up with a sparkling 85 off 42 balls and played a big part in keeping Royals in a mammoth 224-run chase against Kings XI Punjab in the next match.
Rahul Tewatia then launched a stunning assault on pacer Sheldon Cottrell to pull off the highest successful run chase in IPL history.
Royals and Sanju were flying high at this stage. And one hoped that this was going to be a memorable campaign for Sanju. But it has been a downhill journey for both Sanju and Royals despite the stunning win over Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) fashioned by Tewatia and young Riyan Parag.
Sanju has managed just 68 runs from his last six innings. What will worry him more is the fact he could not take his team home in the last two matches against SRH and Delhi Capitals after being set. Sanju was dismissed by SRH's strike bowler Rashid Khan for 26, while he failed to keep out an arm ball from Axar Patel when on 25 in the last outing on Wednesday night.
Sanju needs to realise that in order to cement a place in the Indian team he needs to shoulder more responsibility. Stroke-selection has always been a problem with him. He has to put a price on his wicket, play according to the situation and learn the art of finishing off matches.
Australian legend and Royals mentor Shane Warne had remarked that Sanju is someone special and has the potential to play for India in all three formats. The shrewd tactician may well have been motivating Sanju with these words, but for him to even find a place in the national side for shorter versions he needs to make it count in Royals' remaining six group matches. If Sanju has a good game, Royals invariably win.
Sanju needs to remind himself that time is not his biggest ally even though he will turn only 26 next month. Young willow-wielders such as Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill, Devdutt Padikkal and wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant have been doing really well this IPL. Sanju has been relieved of wicketkeeping duties after the first game and he needs to make the most of the chance provided to him by focussing solely on his batting.
West Indian legend Brian Lara felt that Sanju's technique against quality bowling is susceptible on sporting tracks and it is up to him to make a statement in the remaining fixtures.