Sanju Samson's splendid 119 went in vain after Rajasthan Royals inflicted a narrow four-run defeat in their opening IPL 2021 fixture against Punjab Kings on Monday. Samson, the newly-appointed skipper, led his side from the front to notch up third IPL ton and single-handedly take Royals close to the finish line.
Needing 13 runs in the last over bowled by Arshdeep Singh, Samson was joined by Royals' million-dollar buy Chris Morris in the middle. Samson hit a six in the 4th ball of the over and brought the equation down to 5 from 2 balls. However, he denied the strike to Morris on the penultimate delivery.
Samson, who became the first player to hit a ton on captaincy debut in the IPL, failed to hit a boundary off the last ball. Trying to clear the cover boundary, the Kerala wicketkeeper-batsman was caught at deep cover by Deepak Hooda
While some fans have questioned Samson's decision to not give the strike to Morris, ex-West Indies skipper Brian Lara believes the Royals leader did the right thing.
“I think it was the right decision. I think if anybody had to hit a boundary, it had to be Sanju Samson. If he had gone back for the 2nd run, there was an opportunity to get him run out. I think he did the right thing. No doubts about it in my mind. Tremendous innings. I would not point fingers at him for not taking that single in the last over,” Lara told Star Sports.
Legendary India batsman Sunil Gavaskar also showered praise on Samson, saying that he deserved a win for his knock.
“Outstanding performance. He deserved a win for that knock. It was sheer brilliance because you saw shots all around the park. Playing over the extra cover is never an easy shot but he was doing it very well till the last ball. He just about showed you every shot in the book with power and elegance combined. That knock deserved a win,” Gavaskar said.
After losing their opener by the narrowest of margins, the Royals will now take on Rishabh Pant-led Delhi Capitals in their second IPL 2021 game on Thursday.