'Samson the future for India'
Sanju Samson is "definitely the future" for India, according to his India A fielding and wicketkeeping coach Abhay Sharma. Samson, who turns 20 in November, was the leading run-getter for India A in their victorious campaign in the quadrangular one-day series in Darwin, Australia, with 244 runs from seven matches.
"He is definitely the future for the country," Abhay told ESPNcricinfo. "As a batsman, he is a very sensible player. He understands situations and adapts his game to them. His innings against Australia A in the opening match was outstanding. He took us close in a game we had almost lost."
Samson came in at 70 for 4 in a chase of 253, and saw his side slip further to 84 for 6. He responded with an 81 that brought down the equation to 29 needed off 23 before he was last man out. Though he failed in the final, he guided India A home in successive chases before that with scores of 55 and 49, both unbeaten.
Samson, who has been prolific at Under-19 tournaments, also had a productive season with Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2014 with 339 runs at an average of 26.07 and a strike-rate of 124.17. Before that, he made 530 runs in the Ranji Trophy 2013-14 at 58.88. While he batted at No. 3 mostly for Royals, he moved down to No. 6 for India A in Darwin.
When asked if there was a case for making better use of Samson in the top order in the future, Abhay said his workload would have to be managed considering his dual utility as a batsman and a keeper. "Going forward, we will have to handle him very well, for he has to bat and keep too. He took that responsibility very well this time but we will have to work on him very carefully."
Abhay, a former Railways captain and wicketkeeper, said that Samson's keeping was also coming along quite well, and he was keen to learn. "His keeping is improving day by day. A little more work has to be done on a couple of technical things and constant monitoring is needed. He is a very good learner. He readily understands what I want to communicate and implements my plan. At times there is not even the need to speak to him and he will pick up even little signs. He has adapted very well to these conditions. A stumping he pulled off down the leg side was simply outstanding."
Abhay was also pleased with the standard of India A's ground fielding. The side claimed four run-outs in a match against the Australian National Performance Squad, and Abhay said that game stood out for him for the number of times India had found their target.
"We had 18 direct hits in that match, four of which resulted in run-outs. We had been working on target-hitting and it was great to see the intensity and momentum we created on the field. We even worked on slip catching on the second attempt when someone drops a chance the first time and Manoj (Tiwary) took one such catch in a game. It was very satisfying to see that."
Abhishek Purohit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo