While the likes of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli continue their bad run after returning from lockdown, Sanju Samson has had a blistering start to his IPL season. Scoring back-to-back fifties in Rajasthan Royals game, he has been the most consistent performer of Indian Premier League so far. Moreover, he has hit the 16 sixes this season — most by any batsmen so far. But none of this happened overnight. The Kerala-born cricketer credits his preparations during the six-month of covid-triggered lockdown.
Reason 1: Introspection during lockdown
During the lockdown, Samson says, he reassessed his game and worked more on power-hitting. This has helped him hit more sixes than usual. “I have understood my game. I think it is more of a power-hitting game style and when you come to T20 it becomes a bit more higher. So I was lucky enough to get those four to five months where I was training on my strength and power-hitting prowess. So I think that might have helped me hit more sixes this season,” he said during the press conference.
Reason 2: Help from an old team-mate
In April, Samson says, he had time to reassess his game and fine-tune his skills. “I really worked hard with my coach Biju George and Raiphi Vincent Gomez. The latter has helped me a lot in the last 10 years and we spent some quality moments during this lockdown. He helped me become a better human being and a cricketer,” he said during the press conference on Tuesday.
Gomez was selected for the 2009 season and later by Kochi Tuskers Kerala for the season four. The next season he played for Pune Warriors India in the fifth season. Samson believes that Gomez experience in IPL was crucial to his development and preparations for this IPL season. “He has played two-three IPL seasons and also represented junior India. I feel as we both have a similar game style, so having someone like him in my hometown was a big help. He guided me properly,” the Rajasthan Royals batsmen said.
Reason 3: Change in training regime
Samson has scored 159 runs so far, courtesy of his 74 off 32 balls against Chennai Super Kings in the campaign opener and 85 off 42 balls in a nail-biting chase against Kings XI Punjab. According to a report by Indian Express, Samson changed his training regime during the lockdown. He called up Amal Manohar, his college mate at Thiruvanthapuram’s Mar Ivanios College. Manohar – a former national-level athlete before a knee injury ended his career – is now a certified fitness trainer. He has been working closely with other top sportspersons like badminton player HS Prannoy.
The fitness coach tested the RR batsman on four parameters — speed, strength, endurance and agility. The results gave an insight into areas where the 25-year-old needs to focus on. “We met in April and after conducting the basic test on Sanju, I realised that he was hardly getting time to recover between matches. Therefore, he was carrying the fatigue from the previous match into the next one which was affecting his performance,” he told Indian Express. To overcome this, he devised a training module which helped Samson build muscle mass, become stronger, improve his agility. And the hard work which he put during the lockdown, he is now reaping fruits of it. He is more agile, and is recovering better between matches. The testament to the claim is him being adjudged player of the match in both the RR matches.
Reason 4: Watching old match videos
Samson is currently brimming with confidence and is eager to take to the pitch against Kolkata Knight Riders. He claims to be in good space mentally and ready to take on the challenge in Dubai. “I am in good mental space now. I am eager to go full throttle. We will need to tweak our gameplan for the match in Dubai, but overall the team is ready,” he said. “I spend time with my video analyst Manish Shetty and analyse my game. It is very helpful as I get to work on my flaws and work on the opponents shortcomings too”.
Rajasthan Royals will take on Kolkata Knight Riders in match 12 of IPL at Dubai International Stadium at 7:30 PM.