Rajasthan Royals team director Kumar Sangakkara has backed Sanju Samson's decision to retain strike for the last ball during a stiff run-chase against Punjab Kings, saying it was encouraging to see him take responsibility.
Sanju Samson hit 12 fours and seven sixes in a 63-ball innings against Punjab Kings on Monday but in the end failed to hit Arshdeep Singh's final ball for a six as RR lost the game by four runs. Needing five off the last two balls, Samson had refused to take a single, sending back Chris Morris on the penultimate ball.
"Sanju backed himself to get the job done, and he nearly did, he was five or six yards short of hitting that last ball for a six and sometimes when you are hitting the ball well and you are in form, you believe you can do it," Sangakkara said in a virtual press conference.
"It was encouraging to see Sanju do that, you can always talk about a miss single here or there but the crucial thing for me is players' belief and attitude, commitment into what they know their strengths are.
"Sanju took it upon himself to finish that game and he just fell a few yards short and that happens, but the next time I believe that he will hit that 10 yards further to win us the game."
For all the talent he possesses, Samson has always been an inconsistent proposition in the Indian Premier League and beyond, with one great innings corresponded by multiple failures. Asked how can Samson become more consistent, Sangakkara said, "I know when you start off with a bang, you always want to talk about consistency, but the real key is to understand it differs from game to game... It is about constructing an innings on a new day.
"When he keeps those thought processes simple, there is nothing else for him to worry in terms of technique or execution. I just want him to keep relaxed and focus on just the ball that he is facing."
Riyan Parag was right in his element against Punjab Kings, scoring a fluent 25 off 11 balls. However, the biggest revelation of the day was Chetan Sakariya, who bowled his heart out on his debut game to pick three crucial wickets. Sangakkara lavished praise on the youngsters.
"Riyan is a special player, as you would have seen. He has got amazing hand speed, great composure and (Mohammed) Shami with his experience took a risk bowling a bumper at that time, and Riyan just didn't get enough bat on it. That is the nature of the game, that is risk and reward, and I love watching Riyan play with that freedom and when you play with freedom sometimes wickets do fall.”
It has been a tough phase for Sakariya whose younger brother committed suicide in January while he was playing the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Son of a tempo driver, Sakariya was among the wickets in the tournament and was picked up by Rajasthan for Rs 1.2 crore in the mini auction.
"He (Sakariya) was just brilliant, his skill was on display but it was really wonderful to watch a bowler in such a high-scoring match, always smiling, always in the game, he took an amazing catch at short-fine leg. He managed to come back and bowl with the new ball and then he bowled at the depth when everyone was taking punishment, so it speaks a lot about his skill, his attitude and it is great to have him in the side."
"He is a simple guy, and he's had ups and downs in life and he's here to enjoy his cricket and our job is to support that and it's really good to see the control that he had and the change-ups and picked the moments to bowl them," Sangakkara said.
"He'll get better and things will get tougher when batsmen get used to him and analyzing a bit more, but I think Chetan is a young man who I think will have a very, very good future,” Sangakkara added.