Samson’s six appeal brings India close to victory

By Kersi Meher-Homji 

The great Samson of Bible fame is reminisced for his strength and his love for Delilah. India’s wicket-keeper batsman Sanju Samson will be remembered for his love for hitting boundaries and sixes and nearly saving India.  His bold hitting brought India close to an impossible victory against South Africa.

In the first One-Day International (ODI) at Lucknow last night, India was in strife. Their top batsmen failed and were 4 down for 51 in reply to South Africa’s 4 for 249. But Samson fought till the bitter end as India lost the thriller by nine runs.

The match was delayed due to bad weather and was reduced to a 40 overs game. Sent in to bat South Africa scored 4 for 249, opener Quinton de Kock scoring 48. Then Heinrich Klaasen (74 not out) and David Miller (75 not out) added 139 aggressive runs for the unbroken fifth wicket.

India without their star batters Rohit Sharma, Lokesh Rahul, Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant and Suryakumar Yadav started poorly as they lost four wickets with only 51 runs on board. Then Shreyas Iyer scored 50 runs. Still a humiliating defeat was expected for India.

It all changed when Sanju Samson came out to bat. He belted nine fours and three spectacular sixes in his whirlwind and unbeaten 86 off only 63 balls. He received strong support from Shardul Thakur (33 runs). South Africa’s fast-medium bowler Lungi Ngidi captured 3 for 52 and India lost by nine runs.

One more over and India could have done the impossible by winning.

South Africa now leads the three match series 1-0. The second ODI will be played at Ranchi on 9th October and the third ODI at Delhi on 11th. Hope India picks a stronger team for the two remaining ODIs.

South Africa’s batsman Klaasen was voted the Person of the Match. He said at the presentation, “Not easy at all [when I went in to bat]. Ball was moving around, and just when I went in, it was spinning.”

India’s losing captain Shikhar Dhawan concluded, “Very proud of the way our boys played. It’s tremendous the way Shreyas, Samson and Shardul played. I thought 250 was too many runs, because the wicket had turn and seam. Even fielding-wise we leaked a few runs; but it’ll be a good experience and learning for the young boys”.

Hope it is.

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