FAN FOLLOWING

First-person reports from the stands

Rajasthan Royals v Kings XI Punjab, IPL 2013, Jaipur

April 15, 2013

Samson makes a Royal IPL entry

Aashish Calla


Shane Watson drives down the ground, Rajasthan Royals v Pune Warriors, IPL 2012, Jaipur, May 13, 2012
Crunch: Shane Watson's crisp cover-driving was a sight to behold © AFP
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Players/Officials: Sanju Samson
Series/Tournaments: Indian Premier League

Choice of game

Punjab's record in Jaipur has been patchy right from the start of the IPL. I had been to the ground for this clash last year, and my team, Rajasthan Royals, had won convincingly. So, my expectations from the home side were high this year. Above all, this was probably my last chance to see Adam Gilchrist on the field, so I wasn't going to miss it at any cost.

Team supported

Rajasthan Royals. My home city's team comprises of some of the most delightful talents in the world, including Rahul Dravid, Brad Hodge and Shane Watson. They are also a well-behaved team, and are quite often on top of the fairplay charts.

Key performer

Like Royals' last home game, this was another team effort, with four seamers picking up two wickets each, and a bunch of batsmen contributing the runs. But for me, the star performer was the young 18-year old wicketkeeper, Sanju Samson. He completed three smart catches behind the stumps, and a timely run-out when Praveen Kumar was threatening to do some damage with the bat. Later Samson contributed a gutsy, unbeaten 27 under real pressure to guide Rajasthan over the line - a wonderful effort on his IPL debut.

One thing I'd have changed

Considering that it was a wicket that helped the seamers, and the target wasn't too challenging, Rajasthan could have promoted Brad Hodge to No. 4. He has the technique and experience to counter the moving ball. Stuart Binny's lack of footwork was evident in his dismissal, that put the Royals under some avoidable pressure.

Face-off I relished

Shane Watson v Ryan Harris - two big strong Aussies, one expected to get early wickets, the other expected to provide quick starts. Harris started with a couple of good ones, but once Watson got into his stride, the crowd went delirious. He struck tree fours in the same over, including a couple of convincing shots through midwicket. Harris didn't recover from the early blows until the very end of the innings.

New kid on the block

Playing under a captain who was old enough to be his father, Sanju Samson showed calmness under pressure. First up, he was comfortable behind the stumps in his first big IPL game. The manner in which he ran Praveen out, hitting the middle stump with the batsman trying to sneak a bye, was brilliant. Later, he came in with Rajasthan needing 46 off 43, and played expertly to seal the chase, finishing the game with a lovely stroke over the covers. Dishant Yagnik will probably have to wait for a while before he plays again.

Wow moment

James Faulkner's direct hit to run Manan Vohra out. I was astonished to see how quickly he swooped onto the ball and when he threw, he didn't seem to be in the best position to effect a powerful throw. To makes things tougher, he could see just one stump from where he was stationed. But he threw the stumps down with a wonderful direct hit, catching Vohra short.

Close encounter

The players' dug-outs weren't too far away from where I was sitting, so I could catch a glimpse or two of my favourite stars. Seeing Sreesanth close to the boundary was fun. He looks much bigger in person than he does on TV.

Shot of the day

Shane Watson's cover drive off Parvinder Awana, just before he was dismissed. It was a perfect, crisp and crunchy cover drive. The sound his bat when it hit the ball was music to any cricket-lover's ears. The way the ball sped to the boundary, and the manner in which Watson held the pose after playing the shot got the spectators to stand up and clap in admiration.

Crowd meter

As always, it was a very well behaved crowd at the Sawai Mansingh stadium. The ground was fuller than the last game, perhaps prompted by the way the home team played in that one. The noise levels were higher, and the experience was more enjoyable because there were fewer flies in the ground and the stands than last time.

Entertainment

The DJ at the stadium played the Rajasthan anthem Halla Bol every time a Punjab wicket fell, so we heard it several times in the first hour of play. The volume of the music went considerably higher in the strategic time-outs, to keep the crowds' spirits up.

Overall

Overall this game was tighter than it seemed. There were hardly any sixes in the game, with the winning team hitting none. How many times do we see that in a T20 game? But for the purists, it was a delight to see the fast bowlers dominate. Edges going to the keeper, the ball moving off the wicket, batsmen having to display tight techniques - it was the kind of stuff I enjoy.

Marks out of 10

I'd give this game 8/10. When rating a T20 game, one has to consider factors like the sixes hit and the scores that were made. Considering that it was a pretty low-scoring affair and that the only two sixes were hit by the visiting batsmen, I'd deduct two marks. Also, the fact that the home team had to scrap for runs in the latter half of their innings took away some of the entertainment.

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Aashish Calla is a business analyst by profession, but a passionate cricket follower first. He has been intensely following the great game since the age of 10, when the 1996 World Cup was on. His love for the game now translates into writing articles, blogs and match reports.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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Posted by cric-rash on (April 16, 2013, 15:49 GMT)

It was very nice to see Sree firing with ball and then Sanju Samson finishing the game with a four. Rajasthan Royals so for provided good players to India like Yusuf and Ravindra Jadeja. Now waiting for strings of good performance from Sree and Sanju......Best of luck both you guys.............

Posted by   on (April 16, 2013, 15:32 GMT)

I have been following this young fellow Samson from when he was 12 years old, when he made news scoring nearly 1000 runs with 4 centuries, (2 double centuries and 2 centuries) in the South Zone under-13 cricket tournament. I definitely knew he had a very bright future in Indian cricket, but the only thing is he should get enough opportunies to prove himself. I am thankful to RR for giving him a chance. I hope they will utilize Sachin Baby also as he also is a very exciting player and one of the best fielders in the country. Good luck to them both.

Posted by   on (April 16, 2013, 8:41 GMT)

nice one . keep writing sir . all the best to Samson. kesav koundinya

Posted by   on (April 15, 2013, 20:00 GMT)

Best of Luck Samson....Have a great future ahead....Sreejith

Posted by   on (April 15, 2013, 14:19 GMT)

All the best samson..Nw we are Waiting for sachin baby :)

Posted by   on (April 15, 2013, 13:54 GMT)

Great team work and good captaincy , Samson .. Good show.. really a royal entry.

Posted by   on (April 15, 2013, 10:50 GMT)

It was indeed a Royal debut on Vishu day...cant ask for more,,Hope he continues his good work and produce another test cricketer from Kerala...

Posted by   on (April 15, 2013, 9:15 GMT)

Bravo Samson!! For me he was the find of the match and Man of the Match. RR has groomed many talents and made heroes out of nobody(s).

Posted by   on (April 15, 2013, 7:32 GMT)

good to read.. nice writings..

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