Strength-building and 'soul-searching' give Sanju Samson a second wind
"I had been trying very hard but things were not happening. Then I really asked myself lots of different questions," says Samson of his last year
Sanju Samson has been one of the Rajasthan Royals' lynchpins since 2013. He even made it to our all-time Royals XI. But, until IPL 2020 came along, Samson had never hit consecutive 50-plus scores for the Royals. That changed on Sunday, with Samson following his 74 off 32 against the Chennai Super Kings with 85 off 42 in a record chase against the Kings XI Punjab.
After the Royals made 226 for 6 in 19.3 overs, Samson said his new-found success stems from some intensive work on his power game, alongside some hard questions asked of himself.
"I think I have been hitting it well for the last one year," Samson told the host broadcaster, Star, after the game. "So I'm in the right frame of mind. I can see a change in my game and my fitness."
Achieving that "right" frame of mind came after what Samson described as some "soul-searching".
"I was really fed up of myself last year," he said. "I had been trying very hard but things were not happening. Then I really went back to myself, did a bit of soul-searching and I really asked myself lots of different questions. Like, 'What do I want to achieve in my life?' and 'Where do I want to reach until my cricket career finishes?'
"I decided that I have ten more years to play this wonderful game, so I decided to just give my everything towards cricket and nothing else. My family, friends and everyone is really supportive and I'm really happy that I'm giving my whole energy towards cricket - and it's giving back to me."
"I decided that I have ten more years to play this wonderful game, so I decided to just give my everything towards cricket and nothing else."Sanju Samson on his "soul searching"
One of the features of Samson's batting in both his half-centuries so far has been his power hitting: he's hit 16 sixes and five fours in 74 balls faced so far. No one has hit more sixes in the season till date, and Samson's balls per sixes ratio of 4.6 is easily the highest among the top ten run-getters.
Samson had earlier revealed he had worked on his range-hitting skills during the pandemic-enforced break from cricket.
"I believe that it's in my genes. My father is a very powerful man so I think I also get the same strength," he said with a laugh, when asked about his power-hitting on Sunday. "I have really worked hard on my fitness. I have understood that my game is all about power, so I have invested a lot of time in developing my muscles and all those things, so I'm very happy that it's coming out nicely."
Samson's hitting left captain Steven Smith almost searching for words.
"Wow," Smith said when asked about Samson's batting. "He's just striking the ball cleanly all around the ground. Jeez, he's powerful, he's hitting the ball so well, and making the job easier for whoever he's batting with. He's hitting sixes at will at the moment.
"It's just going to be about adapting when we get to Dubai or Abu Dhabi, where it's [the ground] a little bit bigger I think. But most of the balls he's hitting are probably going out of most grounds. Pretty good that."
Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo