Dubai: Sanju Samson might have fallen four runs short in his virtually single-handed pursuit of Punjab Kings on Monday, but he justified Rajasthan Royals’ decision to hand him the captaincy for IPL 2020.
Samson has been deprived of a go-to guy in the bowling department as Jofra Archer continues his recovery from surgery. That gave debutante Chetan Sakariya a baptism by fire of sorts, but the youngster shouldered the yoke and turned to be the pick of the bowlers for the Royals with a haul of 3/31. It still could not restrict the Kings from reaching a massive 221/6.
Kerala star Samson might have anticipated a high-scoring affair with them. The last match between the two at Sharjah in IPL 2020 finished with 449 runs being scored between them as Punjab scored 223/2 and another Samson flourish saw the Royals win by four wickets after scoring 226 with three balls to spare.
Samson had the added pressure of having to captain the Royals for the very first time and he did phenomenally with a 119 the other day. Next best in the scoreboard were Jos Buttler and Riyan Parag with 25 each. Now, with Ben Stokes being ruled out of the rest of the tournament with a broken finger, Samson and the rest will have to carry on in similar vein. Stokes was out for a duck in that first match perhaps on account of the discomfort caused by his injury, but Samson was the highlight of their batting with Buttler, Parag and Shivam Dube (23) playing bit part roles. All will have to step up with Liam Livingstone the likely draft to fill in for Stokes, meaning a return for Buttler to his opening role.
Sakariya was superb on debut and Samson will be expecting more of the same from him second time around, with South African allrounder Chris Morris 2/41 also likely to improve going forward.
Going head-to-head, the teams are level on 11 wins a piece after 22 face-offs, but Delhi Capitals seem the one to beat this time as they performed rather well in the absence of both their top bowlers Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje against Chennai Super Kings in their tournament opener which they won by seven wickets. DC let CSK score 188/7, but with Rabada and Nortje available to play now having completed quarantine, RR should definitely find the going tougher. Avesh Khan justified his selection in the Delhi squad with a 2/23 from his four overs and could be retained as the Capitals look for a second straight win.
More worrying for the Royals though is the fact that DC batsmen were able to overhaul the target in a matter of 18.4 overs with Prithvi Shaw (72 off 38) and Shikhar Dhawan (85 off 54) putting on a 138-run stand for the opening wicket. Shaw has been in terrific form domestically for Mumbai and seems to have brought that forward to the IPL, and it will be interesting to see if he can light it up enough to put the sensational Samson in the shadows.
Catch the match
Delhi Capitals vs Rajasthan Royals
Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
Match starts at 6 pm UAE