'Learnt how to bat in middle order' - Samson
India A batsman Sanju Samson has said that his biggest takeaway from playing in Australia in the Quadrangular Series was understanding the dynamics of batting in the middle order and adjusting his game according to the match situation.
Samson, the Kerala batsman who was part of the India Under-19 team at the World Cup earlier this year, is primarily a top-order player, even for his franchise Rajasthan Royals. Samson finished as India A's highest run-scorer with 244 runs from seven innings with two fifties with an average of 81.33, given that he was dismissed just thrice. Samson had dropped down to No.6 and also kept wicket in all games. Though he failed in the final against Australia A, scoring 5, India still went on to win the tournament.
"I am not used to playing in the middle/lower order," Samson told ESPNcricinfo after arriving in India. "I took the opportunity and I always wanted to finish games for my team and be not out at the end. I was not out in four innings and I learnt how a batsman needs to convert his game according to the situation, playing in different conditions and bowlers, especially down the order."
Samson's top score of 81 in the opening game came in a losing cause, but it helped India stretch Australia after India were limping at 84 for 6 chasing 253. He made a bigger impact in matchwinning unbeaten knocks of 55 - batting at No. 7 - and 49 in successive matches. Samson's performance on tour won the praise of India A coach Abhay Sharma, who called the batsman 'India's future'.
Abhay said Samson was dropped down the order in order to manage his workload as a batsman and wicketkeeper. Abhay said he was impressed with the way Samson adjusted to his new position. Samson admitted that he needs to work harder on his wicketkeeping. Nevertheless, it is a role he enjoys as it helps him stay focused for the entire duration of the match. Abhay too agreed that he needed to sharpen his technique.
"I like to be involved in the game as much as I can," Samson said. "Keeping [to] every single ball keeps you involved. It was an interesting experience and I kept in all seven matches and in those conditions it was a very good experience for me. I do know that I have to work a bit more on my wicketkeeping when I go back home."
Samson is yet to be picked for India, and while expectations are high after his impressive showings with Royals, he isn't placing heavy expectations on himself yet. He is happy to take it one step at a time and focus on performing in tournaments with the A squad.
"There are crores of players playing cricket and they all want to play for India. They know that India is a strong team and it's tough to get in. But as I said I don't want to think on those lines. I am happy to be playing good tournaments."
He said such tournaments have helped him understand his game better. "I started playing the game just to enjoy myself, not to play for India or do miracles and I had started to win games for my team. I see myself as an improved and mature cricketer day by day and I am learning from each and every game I play. I've seen a lot of improvements in my game in the last year."
Gaurav Kalra is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo. Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor