'A Reality That Fans Don't Understand': Aakash Chopra Says 'There's No Place in the XI' for Sanju Samson

Sanju Samson is that one cricketer who has no dearth of fan following in India. But when it comes to representing the country, the situation gets complicated. Sanju has been a champion player in the domestic circuit. From leading his state team to the Ranji final to guiding his IPL franchise – Rajasthan Royals – to the season finale of 2022, Sanju has done it all. Despite being an immensely talented cricketer, he hasn’t been up to the mark on the international stage, given the number the chances he has been given.

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Sanju has played 11 ODIs and 17 T20Is, scoring 330 and 301 runs respectively. He possesses a 100-plus strike rate in both formats but his average in T20Is – 20.06 – doesn’t impress that much. The number of games he has played for India proves that he has gotten lesser opportunities, but the competition from Rishabh Pant and Ishan Kishan has also made his life challenging. His fans often bat for his selection in the team and want to see him regularly but it’s also a fact that Sanju hasn’t utilised his opportunities up to the fullest extent and former India opener Aakash Chopra also believes the same.

“Sanju has a cult following. When he plays well, he makes batting look easy. He is pleasing to the eyes and took his team to the Ranji final, and IPL final. Got some opportunities for India but didn’t make the most of them. And this is a reality that fans do not understand. Sanju realises that he is going to get limited opportunities in the current set-up,” Chopra told YouTuber Ranveer Allahabadia on ‘TRS Clips’.

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“There is just no place in the XI. Ishan Kishan scored a double-century and yet was benched for the next few matches. When he did, he was asked to bat at No. 5. There isn’t a place. And it’s not because KL Rahul wasn’t available. Had he been available, he would have still sat out. So that is the level of quality that is available. When the opportunity comes, just grab it away. If you throw it away for whatever reason, then you regret it,” he added.

After India’s horrible exit from the T20 World Cup 2022, losing to England by 10 wickets in the semi-finals, there was a massive uproar on social media as Sanju’s fans believed that things could have been different had Samson been a part of the team. But Chopra feels the other way.

“People said ‘Play him and everything will fall in place. We would have even won the World Cup final’. They wouldn’t realise that the bowlers had an off day or that Karthik or Pant would have played in front of him. But in reality, his batting wouldn’t have made any difference,” he added.

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