In India's nine-run loss to South Africa in the ODI series opener, Sanju Samson almost scripted an improbable heist with a valiant, career-best 86 not out off 63 balls. Samson had taken charge of the innings once Shreyas Iyer fell after hitting a counter-attacking fifty.
But with the required run rate shooting and him running out of partners in the end, Samson managed to take 21 runs off the final over, which wasn't sufficient to script a thrilling India win."We fell short (of winning the match) by two shots one four and one six.
If we had hit those, we would have won. Their bowlers were bowling well, but (Tabraiz) Shamsi was a little expensive, and we thought we could target him a little."He had one over left for the end, and I knew that even if we needed 24, I was confident I could hit four sixes, and with that in mind I was trying to take the game deep.
Our batsmen responded well to the challenge," said Samson in the post-match press conference.In his 86 not out, Samson hit nine fours and five sixes at a strike-rate of 136.51, leading the road for an unlikely win with his crisp shots.
"It is always nice to spend some time in the middle and we always play to take our team over the line. I missed connecting two shots, next time I will work even harder. But I am satisfied with my contribution," added Samson.
Thursday's match at Lucknow saw the teams plays on a pitch which had movement for the seamers and considerable turn for the spinners to be kept interested in a truncated 40-overs a side affair, making batting a challenge for the initial stage before going for the big shots.
"It was very difficult to score against the new ball. When Miller and Klassen came in, it became easier the ball was stopping little bit and not seaming much. Batting became easier after 15-20 overs."Even for us, including me, Iyer and Shardul, we batted well because the pitch got better after 20 overs.
Batting conditions were not easy. Even I made mistakes despite scoring 80-plus. But we will learn from this and try to do better in the next match," stated Samson.India were also hurt by the fact that they conceded 54 runs in the last five overs, where Miller and Klaasen got their fifties to remain unbeaten on 74 and 75 respectively.
Moreover, both were given a life each via dropped catches in the ending stage of the South Africa innings."There is certainly room for improvement, but you need to look at the batsmen also. When you are bowling to someone like David Miller, who is the best finisher in the world right now, is very challenging.
These days, 50 runs in five overs is quite common. We were not that bad," concluded Samson.With India now 1-0 behind in the three-match series, they will now be aiming to square the scoreline in the second ODI at Ranchi on Sunday.