After a disappointing opening game of the season, Delhi Daredevils squared up against the Rising Pune Supergiant today at Pune, scripting a mammoth 97-run victory. After being put in to bat first, DD were forced on the back foot right at the start of their innings by the early dismissal of opener Aditya Tare.
Against Royal Challengers Bangalore the other day, the Delhi middle order had collapsed after a promising start while chasing a moderate target of 158. The Delhi Daredevils batting line-up is built around inexperienced, young Indian talent, whose exuberance can be vulnerable to the vagaries of inexperience and the lack of consistency and temperament that comes along with it.
So Tare’s early wicket may have sent some worrying signals to the Rahul Dravid camp. But young Sanju Samson, who is one of the promising youngsters in the IPL, had other ideas.
The Turning Point
When Sanju arrived on the IPL stage some years back, he made heads turn, with flashes of his talent during his stint with the Rajasthan Royals. Always considered a player to watch out for in the future, his progress has often been hampered by inconsistent showings and injudicious shot selection.
This year, in particular, was a tough season for him, with poor form on the field and disciplinary issues off it making more news than his talent. So, the 10th season of the IPL was a perfect opportunity for him to make amends with the world watching.
Batting at No. 4, behind Karun Nair, Sanju had struggled to get going in his brief stay for 13 runs against Royal Challengers Bangalore in the last game. However, despite the failure, it was Sanju who walked in at one-drop.
Right from the start, Samson looked in fine touch as he drove through point and cover repeatedly, with pure timing, scoring four boundaries off the first eight deliveries of his innings. However, after a fluent start against the fast bowlers, he took a more measured approach against the spin of Tahir and Zampa.
Tahir removed Sam Billings in the second over of his spell, bringing Rishabh Pant to the crease. The young duo milked the spinners around for ones and twos, focussing more on cutting down risks and keeping wickets in hand.
Pant departed in the 16th over, caught short of the crease by a bullet throw from Mayank Agarwal, with the score at 124/2. After the fall of Pant, Samson shifted gears and started taking on the spinners as well. Dinda was thumped with disdain for sixes over long off and square leg as Samson quickly raced away into the 90s.
Shortly after, he brought up his maiden T20 century and the first of this IPL season, with a clean strike straight over Zampa. A visibly emotional Samson was seen sobbing under his gear during his moment of glory. He departed the very next ball, having scored 102 off 63 balls, including 8 fours and as many as 5 sixes.
How The Game Progressed
If Sanju’s century wasn’t enough, Chris Morris rubbed it in further as he hammered 38 from a mere 9 balls, striking 4 fours and 3 sixes to take Delhi past 200.
With a target of 206 and Morris’ cameo totally demoralising them at the back-end of the first innings, the RPS chase looked over before it started and they lost half their side for just 55 by the end of the 8th over.
Dhoni’s struggles continued in the third consecutive match as he departed after scoring 11 off 14 balls. The Pune innings eventually folded for 108 in the 17th over. Veteran Zaheer Khan and leggie Amit Mishra picked three wickets each.
In a game that turned out to be a one-sided affair, Sanju’s promotion ahead of Karun Nair and his brilliant century was definitely the pivotal point at which the game slipped away from Pune’s hands.
Appreciation poured in from all corners as the Twitteratti celebrated the youngster’s ton.