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India skipper KL Rahul lauds ‘phenomenal performer’ Sanju Samson

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Last updated on 21 Dec 2023 | 07:26 PM
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India skipper KL Rahul lauds ‘phenomenal performer’ Sanju Samson

Player of the Match on the day, Samson struck his maiden ODI ton to power India to a series win

Having been thumped in the second ODI in Gqeberha, India needed to show character in the decider in Paarl today in order to bounce back and secure a series win. At 101/3 in the 19th over, after losing the toss, the team found itself in a spot of bother but Sanju Samson, who walked into the contest under considerable pressure, played the best knock of his international career to help the side secure a famous series win.

Samson, who was dismissed for 12 in the second ODI, was promoted to No.3 on Thursday and he made the fullest use of the rare promotion, striking a stunning ton, his first ever in international cricket. 

READ: Samson takes destiny into own hands with atypical hundred

Samson is no stranger to playing blistering knocks but, on the day, the 29-year-old curbed his instincts and crafted a classic ODI knock to take India to an above-par total, which eventually proved too much for the Proteas.

In the aftermath of the clash, India skipper KL Rahul was full of praise for Samson, who he labeled as a ‘phenomenal performer’.

“Pleased for Sanju, he's been a phenomenal performer in the IPL over the years,” Rahul said at the post-match presentation.

“Unfortunately we haven't been able to give him the chance at No. 3, because obviously there are stalwarts in the ODIs who occupy those key spots. Glad he was able to grab his chances here.”

Thursday’s ton was redemption for Samson, who two months ago missed out on making the World Cup squad. At the same time, it was also redemption for Rahul himself, who secured a 2-1 series win as captain nearly two years after getting whitewashed 0-3 with a stronger team at his disposal.

Rahul seemingly enjoyed leading a young and inexperienced side, and he revealed that his message to the players was clear - to merely enjoy their cricket and not worry about the rest.

“Have played with a lot of them in the IPL, nice to get out here and play with them. Usually my message is to always enjoy the game, to give your best and not worry about the rest. 

“They’re great cricketers but few of them haven’t played internationally so it’s about giving them some time to adjust. It’s about making their roles clear and they all gave their 100% so nothing more I can ask,” the skipper said.

Aiden Markram, meanwhile, felt that his side were up for the occasion but were unable to sustain excellence, playing well only in patches.

“We were certainly up for it, always a nice feeling in a series decider, nice venue and good crowd in, unfortunately we couldn’t get it done,” Markram said.

“We were good in patches, just couldn’t stitch the momentum up in our favor for long enough.”

For the second time in the series, South Africa slipped to a very heavy defeat despite winning the toss. But when asked if the hosts had misread the conditions, Markram remained adamant that 297 was a chaseable score, and that his side fumbled with the bat.

“The surface didn’t change much throughout the game, thought 290 was very chaseable. We were good with the ball. Not sure the toss played a major factor today.”

The two sides have three days off before the start of the two-Test series that is a part of the ongoing World Test Championship (WTC) cycle. The first Test will be played from December 26th at SuperSport Park, Centurion.

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