NEW DELHI: The smile on Sanju Samson’s face was hard to miss as he answered a question on his ‘mentor’ Rahul Dravid. The youngster from Kerala took a pause, looked at the scribes present at the pre-match conference, and then quickly admitted that the former India captain has indeed brought about a change in Delhi Daredevils.
Coming into the Indian Premier League (IPL) as underdogs, the Daredevils have been able to raise the bar, something that had eluded them in the last three seasons. With a proper mix of experience and youth, the Zaheer Khan-led side have remained unbeaten at home so far, and as they take on Gujarat Lions at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Wednesday, the unit looks pretty charged up. Samson, however, doesn’t hesitate in giving credit to Dravid. “It’s a young team, so a mentor like Rahul Sir always motivates us to perform well. It’s good to see that we are doing well under him,” Samson said.
The Kerala boy’s association with ‘The Wall’ is not something new. It all started in 2013 when Dravid picked rookie Samson in the now-suspended Rajasthan Royals. From thereon, the bond between student-teacher has only strengthened. From being just another young cricketer, Samson has gone on to become a promising face of Indian cricket. And, the wicketkeeper-batsman once again owes it to the former India skipper. “I have been playing IPL for three years now, and I’m getting better. Mostly I learn things from Rahul Sir. It’s all about learning,” he said, adding that the shortest version of the game has only taught him how to become a utility player.
After a bit of a pale patch, Samson slammed 60 to help his side put up a challenging total against Mumbai Indians in the last match, and he admits that he’s ready for such challenges. “If the team wants me to go down the order, then I have to go out there and finish things off. If they send me up, I will have to build the innings and set the stage for my team,” he pointed out. In his three-year IPL stint, Samson has also learnt another important lesson — to play mind games. Perhaps, that’s why the 23-year-old wasn’t willing to give too much attention to Suresh Raina’s Gujarat Lions, who have played firebrand cricket in their debut season. “They are a good side, but that doesn’t change our preparations. We have a clear plan for them,” Samson said with a smile.
In the fast lanes of IPL, it is important to be cautious, and with ‘Rahul Sir’ motivating them, the Daredevils are ‘mentally ready’ for every situation.
Pros vs cons
After their opening loss, Delhi Daredevils have bounced back with three consecutive victories. Quinton de Kock and Sanju Samson are in form. Gujarat Lions sit comfortably in second spot but their bowling is a concern.
Pitch & Conditions
A high-scoring match is expected.