Sanju Samson's struggles in IPL playoffs continue

Sanju Samson
Sanju Samson greets SRH players at the end of Qualifier 2. Photo: AFP/R Satish Babu

It was a forgettable game for Rajasthan Royals (RR) skipper Sanju Samson as his side crashed out of IPL 2024 after suffering a 36-run defeat at the hands of Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in Chennai on Friday night. Sanju got his tactics wrong as his decision to chase boomeranged big time in Qualifier 2. The rationale behind RR electing to bowl first depended on two factors - hope of dew coming in and their comfort zone of chasing. 

However, Sanju's hopes evaporated into thin air as there was no dew at all at Chepauk and on a slow track where the ball gripped and spun sharply, the two SRH left-arm spinners - Impact Player Shahbaz Ahmed and Abhishek Sharma - derailed the RR chase. The two returned figures of 3/23 and 2/24 respectively as RR fell short. 

The two experienced RR tweakers - R Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal - who gave 77 runs from eight overs between them without getting a single wicket - would have made life difficult for the SRH batters had they bowled second.

Sanju's poor run of scores in IPL playoffs continued as he fell for 10 while attempting a six of Abhishek and was caught on the boundary. This was immediately after opener Yashasvi Jaiswal got out to Shahbaz while playing a big shot. For the second successive game, the running between the wickets between Sanju and Jaiswal left a lot to be desired. Sanju turned down an easy single on one occasion.

In fact, in the Eliminator against Royal Challengers Bengaluru, Sanju was so keen on expressing his displeasure at Jaiswal even before grounding his bat that he could well have been run out at the non-striker's end. However, the bowler Karn Sharma was not alert enough to the grab the chance.

Sanju has an aggregate of 129 runs from eight playoff games, with a highest score of 50 made against Kolkata Knight Riders in a losing cause in the 2018 Eliminator. He's crossed the 20-run mark just twice. The right-hander's average comes down to 16.12 while his strike rate reads 105.6 in the playoffs. 

Sanju Samson
Sanju Samson got his tactics wrong in Qualifer 2. Photo: AFP/R Satish Babu

The ongoing edition has been Sanju's best with the bat in IPL. The Kerala star amassed 531 runs from 16 games at an average of 48.27 and is fifth in the run-getters' tally. The 29-year-old notched up five fifties and a hundred, while his strike rate reads a highly impressive 153.46. Sanju was in irresistible form in the first half of the campaign and his dream run forced the selectors to pick him over K L Rahul in the Indian squad for next month's T20 World Cup. 

However, the thing to note is that Sanju has managed just 146 runs from six innings post the team announcement. During this period, he has just one fifty - 86 against Delhi Capitals. Take out that knock and the tally comes down to 60 from five innings at a lowly average of 12.

Clearly, the Indian think tank will be tempted to play Rishabh Pant as the first-choice stumper in the World Cup. If skipper Rohit Sharma decides to pick the left-handed Jaiswal as his opening partner, Sanju could well be warming the bench during the mega event.

India have a lone warm-up game scheduled against Bangladesh on June 1 ahead of World Cup opener against Ireland four days later. Sanju will be hoping to get an opportunity against Bangladesh and make the most of it.

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