For a while, it seemed the T20I against Zimbabwe in 2015 he played will remain Sanju Samson's only game for India. The young right-hander was struggling with inconsistency at the domestic level and at the same time occasionally showing off his class and talent in the IPL.
It was quite frustrating really till he finally turned a corner this year and forced his way back into the reckoning again and was picked for the last month's T20I series versus Bangladesh. And while he didn't play a game and wasn't initially retained for the tussle against the West Indies, the untimely injury to opener Shikhar Dhawan reopened the door for him.
It isn't yet clear whether Samson will get to play the first T20I in Hyderabad on December 6 but if his childhood coach Biju George had things his way, he would've ensured his ward not only plays but also features at the top of the order.
"Sanju should be made to play the first match. He has replaced Dhawan in the squad so he should be asked to open the innings. Confidence and domination are the keys to Sanju’s success," Biju told TOI.
As a coach, Biju has seen Sanju's journey from the very close quarters.
"I still remember one of his Ranji Trophy matches. It was a very bad wicket. The bowler bowled a short one and Sanju tried to play a pull shot. He got an edge and was dismissed. When he came in to bat in the second innings, the same ball was bowled and Sanju hit the bowler for a boundary. He scored in the 70s in that match. That's how Sanju’s temperament is. He learns and adapts to things quickly," he said.
"He loves to dominate. I have seen him play since he was a kid and now, I see him as a perfect batsman. He never stops learning. Not arrogance, it’s confidence and domination that drives Sanju forward."
Samson had a good IPL 2019 season with Rajasthan Royals and followed that up with resounding success at the domestic level.
"I would say, Sanju was overlooked on many occasions. Majorly selections are based on IPL performances. Sanju has also played decent knocks in the IPL. Management is there to decide. They are the ones who have the authority to select players. But I believe Sanju should have got at least one match," Biju said.
"I am not the one who should judge Rishabh Pant. It's the selectors. It feels bad when a player who has faced some of the top bowlers in the world, can dominate at any position, can keep (wicketkeeping) and can field anywhere, is consistently overlooked."
"I am not in anyone’s favour. Be it Rahul (KL Rahul), Rishabh (Pant) or Sanju (Samson), I believe everyone should be given a fair deal and an equal amount of backing."
(Inputs from TOI)