An evening like the one in Sharjah on Tuesday makes you wonder why Sanju Samson hasn’t played more than four T20 internationals for India. Against a strong Chennai Super Kings (CSK) unit, Samson enthralled with an innings of 74 from just 32 balls to help Rajasthan Royals (RR) reach a commanding 216 for 7 from 20 overs. The total was more than enough as Royals opened their account with a 16-run victory.
The more watchful Steve Smith contributed 69 (47b) while Jofra Archer (27 not out off 8 balls) rubbed salt into CSK wounds by hitting Lungi Ngidi for four sixes in the final over.
In response, Faf du Plessis tried his best for CSK with 72 from 37 balls. MS Dhoni, meanwhile, didn’t help himself by coming in at No. 7. He finished with an unbeaten 29 from 17 balls and hit three sixes, but it was too little, too late.
Samson’s innings, though, was perfectly timed. During his whirlwind effort, the 25-year-old sent the ball soaring into the night sky on nine occasions. Samson, of course, has made big scores for Royals in the past but hasn’t yet had the kind of prolific season needed to make himself a permanent fixture of India’s starting XI. He will be hoping that this is his season.

The Royals were actually circumspect to begin with, moving along to 26/1 in 4 overs. In the fifth over, though, Samson decided to tee off against Sam Curran and punished the Englishman’s short deliveries for a four and six. With the pace of the pitch to his liking and smaller boundary dimensions on offer, Samson’s stunning onslaught began even as Smith was happy to play second fiddle.
Even the easing of the field restrictions did not bring any respite for CSK. Despite Dhoni introducing his experienced spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Piyush Chawla into the attack, there was no stopping the Kerala batsman. Samson greeted Chawla with three cleanly-struck sixes as the leggie’s first over went for 28 runs. Samson also brought up his half-century from just 19 balls – his fastest in the IPL – in the process.

CSK pulled things back a bit after Samson’s dismissal. Archer, however, smashed Lungi Ngidi for four sixes in the final over, which yielded 30 runs, to ensure RR finished strongly.
While Watson (33, 21 balls) began CSK’s run chase promisingly with four sixes in the first six overs, his downfall was brought about in the seventh over while trying to hit another maximum. M Vijay (21, 21b), Sam Curran (17, 6b) and debutant Ruturaj Gaikwad (0, 1b) – replacing Ambati Rayudu who was not fully fit – perished in quick succession thereafter. Gaikwad didn’t do himself any favour with the manner of his dismissal, as he stepped out to leggie Rahul Tewatia off his very first delivery and was duly stumped.
Curran’s promotion to counter Tewatia and Shreyas Gopal in the RR set-up was understandable, but Dhoni should have ideally walked in ahead of Ruturaj and Kedar Jadhav. Especially given that he hasn’t had time in the middle since the World Cup last year, it would have been prudent for him to get his eye in before going for his shots.