Dublin, Aug 16 (PTI): The national selection committee’s patience with the profligate Sanju Samson could be soon running out as Jitesh Sharma’s presence in the 15-member squad for Ireland T20s puts the Rajasthan Royals skipper’s place in the side under scanner.
The Indian squad for the series, save skipper Jasprit Bumrah, who is treating this event as a fitness test for the ODI World Cup, comprises Asian Games-bound players mostly and that in turn creates a slightly tricky situation.
With scores of 12, 7 and 13 in the three games that he batted in the five-match T20 series against West Indies, Samson has himself invited trouble and one shouldn’t be surprised if Jitesh dons the big gloves and plays as a designated finisher during the Ireland series beginning on Friday.
The 29-year-old Amrawati-born cricketer is likely to be India’s first-choice keeper ahead of Prabhsimran Singh in the upcoming Asian Games and before an important event, it is only fair that he gets to play a few international games to settle his nerves.
Jitesh performs the tough role of a finisher for Punjab Kings at No 5 or 6 in IPL and it is not an easy job to mentally condition yourself to play only 15 to 20 balls per game.
While Samson is still best-placed to become a reserve keeper in ODI World Cup, in case KL Rahul can’t make it eventually, but his inconsistency for years now despite immense potential does keep the selectors worried.
It is imperative that Samson gets a few more chances to make a case for 50-over World Cup selection (though different format) but will the team think-tank be able to fit in both the glovesmen in the playing XI? A look at the squad will make one feel that it would be a tight case.
With Ruturaj Gaikwad and Yashasvi Jaiswal set to open and Tilak Varma after a fine debut series in the West Indies settled at No. 4, the slot that may be up for grabs is No. 3 in the absence of the brilliant Suryakumar Yadav.
Samson, who has batted at No. 3 slot for Rajasthan Royals on occasions during IPL, could be tried in that position but there is Shivam Dube, the big-hitting giant, who has also been a floater and used successfully at that position by Chennai Super Kings skipper MS Dhoni during the IPL final.
On top of it, Dube is the team’s seam bowling all-rounder although he is not even close to Hardik Pandya when it comes to rolling his arms over. But his sheer power-hitting skills could make him a contender.
Also in case Samson plays all the games, one among Jitesh and the equally exciting Rinku Singh will miss out.
Indian T20 team as well as the ODI squad need good middle-order finishers and captain Bumrah and stand-in coach Sitanshu Kotak wouldn’t want to lose out on that chance.