Four years since he made his first and only appearance for India in the T20I batsman, Sanju Samson finally got his second break for the Men in Blue as he was roped in for the playing XI against Sri Lanka for the third T20I in Pune on Friday.
Samson had made his T20I debut back in 2015 against Zimbabwe and earned a recall in late 2019, for the Bangladesh T20I series amid faltering performance of Rishabh Pant. In fact, his absence in 73 T20Is in between is the most by an Indian, surpassing the previous highest tally of 65 games by Umesh Yadav (2012-2018). Yet, the team management persisted with Pant in the Bangladesh series and surprisingly dropped the Kerala-based cricketer for the West Indies series in December at home.
In between, he went back to his domestic team and scored 112 runs in four appearances for Kerala in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and followed it up with 116 and 78 in back-to-back matches in Ranji Trophy.
He was added to the squad once again for the Sri Lanka series at home, was opted out for the first two games before being named for the third.
Samson was among the three changes that India made for the final tie at the Maharashtra Cricket Association.
We have made three changes today. Sanju Samson comes in place of Rishabh Pant. Chahal replaces Kuldeep who gets a rest today and Manish Pandey gets a game in place of Shivam Dube," said captain Virat Kohli after losing the toss.
The 25-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman has had decent IPL seasons over the last three years averaging over 30 and striking at around 140 with two centuries and five fifties.
"We wanted to bat first as we wanted to do something different today. Toss was almost irrelevant as we knew they wanted to bowl first. Batting first is something we want to do more. Trend is going towards team wanting to chase, we want to be a side who want to embrace the other aspect also so that we are better placed, if things don't go your way at toss. You can't go into the match thinking you can only do well when you chase. We want to bat first and bat well. We want to embrace difficult things as well hence the combination of the side is accordingly," Kohli added.
India lost the toss and have been invited to bat first.