India captain KL Rahul has addressed Sanju Samson’s role in the team ahead of the first ODI of the three-match series against South Africa at New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Sunday, December 17.
Sanju has been in and out of the Indian team ever since he made his international debut for the Men in Blue in 2015. The Kerala wicketkeeper-batter was added to India squad for Asia Cup 2023 as a backup for injured KL Rahul. However, Samson was sent home after Rahul was recovered for the Super 4 stage.
There were reports that Samson could be included in the World Cup squad but his name was nowhere to be seen when the squad was announced. Sanju Samson has not often been on selectors’ radar when it comes to team selection for T20is and ODIs.
After three months, Sanju Samson is back in the Indian side for the ODI series against South Africa. The 29-year-old will look to grab the opportunities with both hands in all three matches.
Speaking at the press conference ahead of the ODI series opener, KL Rahul confirmed that Sanju will bat in the middle order while he will be keeping the wickets. He also said that Kerala cricketer might get an opportunity to keep the wickets in the series.
“Sanju will bat in the middle order. That is the role he has played whenever he has played ODI cricket. He will bat at No. 5 or 6. For now I am going to keep wickets, but if there is an opportunity for him in that role, he will definitely at some point in the series,” Rahul said.
KL Rahul drops hint on Rinku Singh making ODI debut
KL Rahul also spoke about the chances of Rinku Singh making his ODI debut in the series against South Africa. The Indian captain hailed Uttar Pradesh for his overall performance in the T20is against South Africa. He also acknowledged Rinku for his game awareness and performing under pressure.
“He has shown what a good player he is. We all knew how skilled he is having watched him in the IPL, but what has been really good to see has been the temperament he has shown in the T20I series, and the game awareness and calmness under pressure.” Rahul said.
“It was refreshing to see. He has performed well across formats in domestic cricket, so yes he will get his opportunity,” he added.
Rinku Singh was one of the star performers for India in the 1-1 T20I series against South Africa. In the 2nd T20I, the 24-year-old slammed an unbeaten 68 off 39 balls, consisting of 9 fours and 2 sixes, at an impressive strike rate of 174.36. However, India lost to South Africa by DLS method.
In T20Is, Rinku Singh has aggregated 262 runs, including a fifty, at an average of 65.5 and a strike rate of 180.69 in 12 matches.