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'Lack of clarity': Uthappa discusses Sanju Samson's role ahead of 2024 World Cup

Updated on: 09 August,2023 08:51 AM IST  |  New Delhi

The right-handed batter has found tremendous success as a top-order batter for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL but has made only 12 and 7 so far while batting at number six and five in the two T20Is in West Indies

'Lack of clarity': Uthappa discusses Sanju Samson's role ahead of 2024 World Cup

Robin Uthappa. Pic/AFP

Former India batter Robin Uthappa believes that Sanju Samson is not being used to his optimal best in the T20I format due to a lack of role clarity and is hoped that communication lines are clear with him on batting in an unfamiliar position in the ongoing series against the West Indies.

Samson has often been used as a floater in the India T20I batting order, meaning that he hasn’t got a fixed batting position. Being constantly shifted up and down the order means Samson, who got a run of batting at No.4 just three times in 2020, is yet to get his rhythm in the format so far.

The right-handed batter has found tremendous success as a top-order batter for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL but has made only 12 and 7 so far while batting at number six and five in the two T20Is in West Indies.

“There is a lack of clarity as far as Sanju Samson is concerned. I wish the communication is clear with him because unfortunately the last time he was picked for the Indian team, he got injured (this year) and missed a couple of games. He had to then go back to the NCA and come back into the team. Now when he’s back in the squad, he’s batting at a spot which is not his natural position and where he had succeeded previously.”

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“Suddenly, he’s thrown at the deep end and he’s going to be rated on how he performs in that position. I think that’s a little unfair to him and to everyone. If you throw Axar Patel to bat at the top of the order and ask him to score runs and deal with the new ball, he may not come off with a lot of success, unless he gets a certain number of games in that position,” said Uthappa, an expert for JioCinema, in a select virtual media interaction.

Uthappa, a member of India’s winning squad in the 2007 Men’s T20 World Cup, further elaborated on why Samson has to be given clarity in his batting position in T20Is, keeping in mind the broader picture. 

“As team management, we see this role for you and we guarantee you that you will be playing this number of games in that position. He should be told that if you succeed in that position, then you will continue to play in that position. But say, if you are not able to succeed in that position, then we will look at somebody else who will fulfil that role as we have a World Cup coming up (in 2024).”

“Now, I hope for Sanju’s sake and the larger sake of the team as well, that he’s given that rope because you are not only sending a message to someone like Sanju; you are also sending a message to everyone across the board that when you do get to play for India, you may not get to bat at those positions that you generally bat at, which is completely fine.”

“But if you do get to play in those positions, you may not get an extended run and that can cause added pressure. There’s enough pressure in international and in Indian cricket as you don’t get too much of an opportunity unless you are looked at as a blue-eyed boy and are seen as the future of Indian cricket.”

“I hope the communication is there with Sanju and I hope he gets a long rope because that would be fair, not just for Sanju, but for every number three batter who gets thrown in at number six, as it’s very hard to bat there and adjust to that position.”

Amidst India being 2-0 behind in the five-game series, young left-handed batter Tilak Varma has made a bright start to his T20I career, making 39 and 51 with his impressive strokeplay and calmness at the crease. Uthappa foresees Varma to be a long-term middle-order batting option in India’s future scheme of things.

“Most certainly, he will be someone India will be investing in as we need a left-handed batter in the middle order, and he can fill the gap beautifully. Just the way he approaches his cricket is very refreshing. He’s a player of this generation and always plays positively while trying to put the pressure back on the bowlers when playing T20 cricket.”

“He will have to get a little bit of exposure in One-day cricket. We need to wait and see if he gets that immediately now or after World Cup, as a left-handed batter in a middle order, will go a long way in one-day cricket. He’s someone who will be in future for sure, alongside the likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill and Yashasvi Jaiswal to be stalwarts of Indian cricket moving forward.”

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