Rajasthan Royals’ (RR) director of cricket Kumar Sangakkara heaped praise on Sanju Samson for performing the triple roles of wicket-keeping, captaincy and batting to perfection in this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL).
RR thrashed Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) by seven wickets on Friday (May 27) in the Qualifier 2 to secure their spot in the IPL final for the first time since 2008.
“Sanju has been exceptional. He started off with quite a tough test last season with a young side and lot of upheaval because of COVID bubbles, tournament of two halves but he has really grown into his role,” Sangakkara said at the post-match press conference.
“He is very soft-spoken, very reserved individual. He is exceptionally skilled with the bat. He has shown a lot of passion and hunger to taking on this testing role of captaincy. Wicket-keeping, captaining and being the best batter in your side along with Jos Buttler is not an easy kind of role to fill but he has done it really well this season,” he added.
According to Sangakkara, Samson’s tactical awareness has improved throughout the campaign.
“He has become more and more aware of what his role is. His tactical awareness has improved right throughout. He has really trusted his team. The team really looks up to him as a leader,” the former Lankan skipper said.
Opener Jos Buttler starred with the bat in RR’s victory over RCB in Qualifier 2, slamming 106 not out off 60 balls to help his team chase down the target of 158 with 11 deliveries to spare.
It was his fourth hundred in this year’s IPL, equalling Virat Kohli’s tally of centuries from the 2016 season. With this knock, he also became the third batter after Kohli and David Warner to breach the 80-run barrier in an IPL season.
Praising Buttler, Sangakkara said: “It’s hard to describe what he (Buttler) has done for us this season in terms of T20 batting. He started off well, he had a little bit of a flutter at one point in the tournament but then he just calmed himself down, had a lot of good conversations rather than just training.”
“He accepted that he is mortal, he is a human and can’t be at that high level of excellence every single day. He can accelerate at any point, he has got all the strokes. He understands the game really well. I can’t remember anyone batting this well in the history of the IPL.”
Sangakkara said having a core group of nine players made his job easy.
“That’s an advantage of having an experienced side. We have a core group of nine players with exceptional experience and skill and around them, we have young guys and some very senior players in the bench. What I have to do as a coach is very little. It is just about being responsible of what has happened, owning it as a unit,” he remarked.
(With PTI inputs)