Sanju Samson. (TOI Photo)CHENNAI: In the run-up to the India 'A'-New Zealand 'A' One-Dayers which kick-off at Chepauk on Thursday, the spotlight has been on Sanju Samson. The 27-year-old wicketkeeper batsman, skipper of India 'A', failed to find a place in the India squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup next month.
Sanju hasn't let that snub affect his preparations for the three-match series against the visiting Kiwis. Be it his fitness drills or while facing net bowlers during practice, Sanju has looked as driven as ever. "The motivation (to play at the highest level) is always there and being a part of Indian cricket is not a small thing. We all know the standards we have set for the past many years, the quality of cricket and quality of our cricketers is unbelievable. We keep challenging ourselves and look to perform in each and every opportunity we get," Sanju said on Wednesday.
Despite making his international debut in 2015 – in a Twenty20 against Zimbabwe – Sanju has managed to represent India in only 16 T20s and 7 ODIs. Sanju conceded that it was a challenge to cement a place in the national side when you don't get a prolonged run.
"Finding a place in the Indian team is a challenging part for every individual as there is a lot of competition. I feel it's important to focus on yourself when these things are happening. Competing with yourself and trying to improve more and more is what I really like to do. When you do that the rest of things take care of themselves," Sanju pointed out.
The dynamic right-hander backed himself to bat at any number from 1 to 6 in the batting order. "One thing I have constantly worked on is different roles. I am very confident at batting anywhere between 1 to 6. You don't need to find a particular spot for yourself. You can't say I am a finisher or an opener because I bat at different numbers when I play for my state, India, India A or for my IPL franchise," he said.
Is it not a disadvantage when one constantly shuffles his batting position? "That's where cricket is headed. In this generation of cricket, you can't say that you only bat at one position and I feel it (batting in different positions) is a good dimension to have," Sanju said.
Sanju seems to be giving a lot of importance to the India 'A' games. "There is not much difference between playing an India 'A' game or an international game. The competition is almost the same as the international level and that's why it's important to make use of all these games. New Zealand 'A' is a strong side and playing at Chepauk will be exciting," he said.