The national selectors have recalled Sanju Samson to the Indian team for the white-ball series against Sri Lanka next month. The Kerala star and Jharkhand youngster Ishan Kishan are the two wicketkeeper-batsmen in the 20-member squad.
Sanju, who was dropped from the Indian T20I team after the tour of Australia, has earned a place in the squad based on his performances in IPL 2021. The fact that Rishabh Pant, the first choice stumper-batsman, is away in England with the Test squad also helped his cause.
Sanju had a decent outing for Rajasthan Royals before IPL 2021 was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He did reasonably well both with the bat and behind the stumps besides shouldering the responsibility of leading Royals. After starting off a with a brilliant hundred in a lost cause against Punjab Kings, Sanju had a lean patch before the stylish right-hander showed signs of getting back to form when the IPL was halted.
Sanju has struggled in the limited opportunities that have come his way on the international stage. In seven Twenty20 Internationals spread over six years he has managed a highest score of 23. Kishan on the other hand made a big impression by scoring a match-winning fifty on his international debut against England in the T20I series, while Pant was simply irresistible last season.
The Lankan tour consists of three one-dayers and as many T20Is. Sanju is likely to be the first choice wicketkeeper while Kishan could be fielded as a specialist batsman.
At 26, Sanju knows very well that both Pant (23) and Kishan (22) have an edge over him. He needs to make this chance count. The IPL will resume in the UAE on September 19. Good performances in Lanka and the UAE will go a long way in Sanju finding a place in the Indian team for the Twenty20 World Cup to be played soon after the IPL.