Sanju Viswanath Samson
November 11, 1994, Pulluvila, Vizhinjam, Trivandrum
Right hand Bat
Sanju Samson was perhaps the first top-drawer Indian player to be known primarily for his feats for his IPL franchise than for the national side. A Rajasthan Royals mainstay, he has made over 3000 runs for them in the course of his first eight seasons.
Samson moved to Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala in his early teens after taking his first cricket lessons in Delhi, where his father worked as a police constable. In Kerala, he created waves on the junior circuit with his batting, showing impressive technique and an ability to time the ball crisply. He made it to the India side for the Under-19 Asia Cup in 2011 but did not impress in the tournament, and missed out on selection for India's U-19 World Cup side the following year.
Rajasthan Royals bought Samson at the IPL auction in 2013, when he was 18, and save for the two years when the side was out of the league for a ban, he has been a fixture in their line-up. He was appointed captain in 2021, when he made 484 runs, kicking off with a barnstorming 119 off 63 balls in their tournament opener, against Punjab Kings, followed by three 40s in a row later in the season, and then an unbeaten 70 and 82 in back-to-back games. His fine, consistent displays did not reflect in Royals' finishes on the tournament's points table, which continued to be disappointing up until 2022, when they were second (Samson made 458 runs that year).
He made his first-class debut in 2011-12, and impressed with bat and as keeper for Kerala in the Ranji Trophy. In 2013-14 he finished with 530 runs at an average of just under 60, including a double-hundred in his first game; that was followed by 475 runs the next season. In 2015-16, he was 20 when he was appointed captain of the Kerala side. In October 2019, in a showcase of his by then formidable white-ball skills, Samson made 212 not out, the highest score in the history of the Vijay Hazare Trophy at the time, for Kerala against Goa.
A call-up to the India T20 side came in July 2015, and he made his debut against Zimbabwe in Harare, but then went four and a half years before his next game in the format for India. He made his ODI debut in 2021, which was followed a gap again, of a year before he played his next ODI - in a series in the West Indies, where he made 54 in the second match.
Batting & Fielding