Mohammad Kaif backs Sanju Samson for ODI World Cup

Sanju Samson's place in the Indian team has come under scrutiny of late, but he has been backed to succeed by former India batsman Mohammad Kaif.

In an unexpected twist of events, Team India executed a calculated manoeuvre during the gripping ODI series against the West Indies. Captain Rohit Sharma and batting maestro Virat Kohli were strategically rested for the final two matches, following their victorious opening encounter in Barbados. 

This tactical decision provided an opportune platform for lesser-known players to showcase their prowess, and one individual who embraced this opportunity with flair was Sanju Samson. The elegant right-handed batsman delivered a scintillating performance, crafting a rapid half-century during the pivotal third ODI clash in Trinidad on August 1.

In the midst of swirling speculations and escalating expectations, Samson managed to silence his critics who had raised doubts after his underwhelming display in the second ODI. With a composed demeanor, this audacious wicketkeeper-batter unveiled a masterful knock of 51 runs off 41 balls. His contribution played a pivotal role in propelling India to an imposing total of 351 runs in their first innings. This commanding exhibition at the crease was complemented by a clinical bowling performance that saw the West Indies crumbling for a mere 151 runs.

Samson's dazzling display did not evade the astute observation of former India cricketer Mohammad Kaif. The veteran cricketer showered plaudits upon the Rajasthan Royals captain, commending his adept handling of spin bowling. Kaif marveled at Samson's versatility and readiness for the impending World Cup, underscoring his prowess in countering both left-arm spin and leg spin.

Kaif thinks Sanju Samson is ready for World Cup 2023

Highly impressed by Samson's performance in the high-stakes third ODI, Kaif remarked, “I am very, very impressed with Sanju Samson. The way he played the last game was impactful and he has done that in the past as well whether at four or five.”

Kaif strategically questioned the wisdom of slotting in Ishan Kishan or possibly Axar Patel at the crucial number four position. He emphasized the necessity for a batter adept at handling diverse bowling styles, firmly asserting that Samson possesses precisely that skill set.

Sanju Samson
Photo by Icon sport

Kaif's poignant assessment of Samson's knock resonates beyond the match itself. He acknowledged the immense pressure under which Samson delivered and highlights its implications for his inclusion in the World Cup squad.

Kaif elaborated, “If you look at the last game (vs WI), he knew it was a do-or-die game and had the understanding, if he didn’t perform well, he won’t be included in the World Cup squad. Samson’s knock in the third ODI came under pressure and he is ready for the World Cup.”

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Kaif's perspective transcends the immediate context, encompassing a broader view of India's performance and future challenges. He refrains from hasty judgments based on the West Indies tour, a team grappling with its own set of issues.

Kaif, a veteran at 42, dispenses sagacious counsel for the forthcoming Asia Cup, urging India to field their most formidable lineup – not just to secure victory, but to also identify potential World Cup contenders.

In his discerning words, “I won’t really judge the team and the team combination on the basis of the West Indies tour. The West Indies team is itself struggling, they haven’t qualified for the World Cup (ODI) even.” Kaif's focus remains unwavering: the Asia Cup is a platform to test and finalize the squad for the impending World Cup, considering both the starting XI and backup options.

As Team India pioneers unconventional tactics, and as Sanju Samson's star continues to ascend, the stage is set for an enthralling sequence of events.

The forthcoming Asia Cup promises to be a crucible for strategies, and a canvas on which the narrative of India's journey towards the World Cup unfolds, stroke by captivating stroke.

Prasenjit DeyPrasenjit Dey

Prasenjit Dey is an independent cricket journalist with Bylines across reputed publications like Cricbuzz, The Hindu, The Cricketer, Fancode, and The Quint Among Others. He has an experience of eight years in the field and is a valuable addition to the Cricnerds team. You can follow him on Twitter @CricPrasen.