India headed to New Zealand post the team ended their World Cup campaign in the semi-final against England. The squad chosen to tour New Zealand for a white-ball series lacked the experienced faces of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and Jasprit Bumrah. And in their absence, Hardik Pandya took charge of the T20I team as the ODI captaincy position went to Shikhar Dhawan. Moreover, players like Shubman Gill, Umran Malik, and Sanju Samson made it into the squad.
However, none of the mentioned got a chance to feature in the playing 11 for the T20 series. The first match, planned for November 18 in Wellington was abandoned due to incessant rain. The second was one by India, courtesy of Suryakumar Yadav. And, the third and final that ended up in a tie didn’t feature any change, keeping Gill, Samson, and Malik on the bench only. The team didn’t include Sanju Samson, playing Rishabh Pant over him. Moreover, Shubman Gill didn’t receive his T20I cap with Ishan Kishan and Rishabh Pant opening the Indian innings.
While Shubman Gill is a young case, there’s an uproar going on over Samson’s constant exclusion from the international side. Samson’s massive fanbase believes it’s a deliberate and nasty move given he’s the preferred option for the wicket-keeping, batter position. ‘Preferred’, because the other option, Rishabh Pant hasn’t exactly shown a terrific form in the format for quite a long now. Many critics of the game have expressed confusion about not playing Sanju Samson in bilaterals as such.
Skipper Hardik Pandya Explains Leaving Sanju Samson on the Bench Against New Zealand
India won the series against New Zealand with a clear win in the second T20I, putting up the series at 1-0. Subsequently, Hardik Pandya appeared for a press conference post-India’s win. In the presser, the skipper was grilled over the apparent exclusion of Samson and Malik from the team. Pandya, the stand-in captain, in turn, retaliated that those excluded now will surely be included in the long run.
“To be honest, I have tried my best to give freedom to my player so that he can go out and express himself. Whosoever has come here to play international cricket, he have had played many games before. Obviously, things we couldn’t implement are getting highlighted,” he said. “My doors are always open to come & chat with me – I understand their feelings & always want to keep a healthy atmosphere, Sanju Samson is an unfortunate case, for strategic reason, we couldn’t play him,” Pandya added about Samson.
“Firstly, what is being spoken outside doesn’t matter to us. This is my team, what I and the coach feel is right, we’ll go by that. Everyone will get a fair amount of chance and when it happens, that particular player will be trusted thoroughly, Pandya said. “ This was a small series, if we had more matches then we could have tried out more players,” he added.