Kevin Pietersen, legendary England’s former batsman has heaped praise on Sanju Samson, insisting he is in ‘absolute awe’ of the India and Indian Premier League star.
Sanju Samson, who has made seven appearances for India in T20 cricket, produced an early contender for the innings of the tournament during Rajasthan Royals’ IPL defeat to Punjab Kings last week.
Kevin Pietersen In Awe Of The Way Sanju Samson Plays His Shots
The 26-year-old smashed 119 from 63 balls – with 12 fours and seven sixes – as Rajasthan fell agonizingly short of Punjab’s 221-6 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. He scored the first and only ton in IPL 2021 so far.
“The standard has been set, once again, by the Indian youngsters,” former England batsman Kevin Pietersen, who played for IPL teams RCB, DD and defunct RPS , told Betway.
“I just love Sanju Samson every single year. I’m just in absolute awe of the way he plays his shots and the time that he has to play shots. His century against the Punjab Kings was absolutely magnificent and he was very unlucky not to get his side over the line.”
Despite hailing Sanju Samson, Kevin Pietersen admits the wicketkeeper-batsman must become more consistent, having often underwhelmed during the middle stages of the IPL. Since his impressive century against Punjab Kings, Sanju Samson has scored just five runs in two innings, failing in Rajasthan’s victory over Delhi Capitals and defeat to Chennai Super Kings.
“I talked about it a lot on commentary last year, but it’s all about consistency with Samson,” Kevin Pietersen added. “He has a tendency to go missing in the middle of the tournament.
“We don’t want this to be the only innings worth talking about for a few weeks, so we should be wary that he only scored four in Rajasthan’s second match against Delhi Capitals. His responsibilities are going to another level now that he is the Royals’ captain, though, and he must also cover the hole left by Ben Stokes in that batting line-up.”
“As captain, you start thinking about others as well as yourself, which can go one of two ways. When you don’t think too much about batting, a free spirit like Samson can go out there and just start tonking it everywhere.
“I’m so pleased that everybody is realizing the importance of the IPL and how much it benefits each and every country. Of course, the players earn their money and they deserve to, but the experience is priceless.”
Sanju Samson was appointed as the captain of the Royals before the IPL 2021 after the former champions released Australia star, Steve Smith. Sanju Samson, who made his India debut as early as 2015, has not managed to find a permanent spot in the Indian team but there are no doubts about his talent.
Kevin Pietersen: Ben Stokes Absence Due To Injury Is A Massive Blow For Rajasthan
Sanju Samson’s contributions for Rajasthan will be of even greater importance this season as England all-rounder Ben Stokes has been ruled out of the tournament with a finger injury. Ben Stokes faces up to three months on the sidelines after breaking his finger in Royals’ 1st game.
On Stokes’ absence, Kevin Pietersen said: “You want the best players playing in the competition, so it’s very disappointing that we have lost Ben from it before he had the chance to get going. He’s been on the road for a long time now and can rest up ahead of England v India this summer and then the T20 World Cup.
“But for Rajasthan, it’s a massive blow. By losing Jofra Archer and now Stokes, their chances have diminished substantially. Other players in that set-up are going to have to stand up but I’m not sure I see anybody there who can replace those two long-term. It’s a shame for them,”Kevin Pietersen said.
The allrounder Ben Stokes sustained the injury during the Royals’ opening game, against the Punjab Kings, when he ran in from long-on and dived forward to take Chris Gayle’s catch in the tenth over of the Kings’ innings.
Ben Stokes’ injury could disrupt the Royals’ plans significantly, especially because they are already without a first-choice player in pacer Jofra Archer, who is recuperating and is expected to miss at least the first four games of the season.
While Sanju Samson led the team to within touching distance of victory with his sensational century against Punjab Kings, the duo of David Miller (62) and Chris Morris (36* of 18) pulled off a win against the Delhi Capitals. Against CSK, opener Jos Buttler looked dangerous but the other batsmen failed to provide any valuable contributions.
Liam Livingstone, the England and Rajasthan Royals batter, has also opted to return home early from the IPL, citing “bubble fatigue” after spending much of the last ten months moving in and out of biosecure environments.