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"Captain I want to win matches for....": RR players, personnel praise Samson as he celebrates 10 years with franchise

Kolkata (West Bengal): Ahead of the Indian Premier League (IPL) clash against the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Rajashthan Royals players Yuzvendra Chahal and Riyan Parag, Director of Cricket Kumar Sangakkara and other franchise personnel heaped praise on skipper Sanju Samson, who is celebrating his 10th anniversary of joining the Pink franchise on Tuesday.

In a clash of the top two teams in the IPL points table, the Rajasthan Royals (RR) will lock horns with the Knights at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Tuesday. The Royals are currently at the top of the IPL 2024 standings with 10 points and a net run rate of +0.767. They have five victories under their belt while losing another.

The Knights have also played five games this season, winning four and losing one. KKR are second in the IPL standings with eight points and an NRR of +1.688.

Former RR wicketkeeper Dishant Yagnik, who was the wicketkeeper facing an injury when Samson came into the side and is now a fielding coach for the team, said when he passed the keeping gloves to a young Samson, who was just 18 back in the day, he felt really happy. Sanju made his IPL debut for RR in April 2013.

"I told him to carry forward the franchise as a wicketkeeper. And I told him that I knew that after playing in the IPL, he would play for India 100 percent," Dishant said.

The team manager, Romi Bhinder, said the first page of Sanju's 'first chapter' was Rahul Dravid and Shane Watson, the two senior players and captains of the franchise when Sanju arrived on the Pink franchise.

"Sanju had in mind to be a Royal like Rahul Bhai, Shane Watson and Shane Warne. That is when the colour started taking over him," he added.

Young all-rounder Riyan Parag, who has been in a rich vein of form during the ongoing IPL season as a top-order batter following several underperforming seasons in the role of a finisher, said Samson was always there for him whenever he felt down and short of runs. He also said his skipper is emotional and is someone he would like to win matches for.

"It has been six players with him, Sanju Bhaiya. He always had the presence of being an actual captain. He was always there. He was making those decisions on the field and off it. He was always a part of the leadership group. He is the captain I want to win matches for. That is the best captain you can have. The journey I had with RR, he had the same journey for a longer period of time. Whenever I was down, whenever I was not scoring, he was always open. He has got a lot of emotions, he wears them on his sleeve. You know when he is angry, happy. I like to see him happy most of the time," said Parag, who has scored 284 runs in six matches this season, with three fifties.

Chahal said Samson is a chilled-out skipper and does not overthink ahead of the team's matches.

"Last match, he had his 50th game as a captain. IPL is like that. You have a lot of ups and downs. When you win and lose, everything is on the captain. He is very chill, does not overthink on games and understands things," said the ace spinner.

Sangakkara said people in the franchise have rooted for him all the time and the more people have seen of him, they realise how great a servant he has been for RR and could be for Indian cricket in the long run.

"It is great to see so much people pour out their love and support for him. It has been a privilege to work for him. It is just the start, he is only 29, he has got eight to nine years left with this franchise. It is emotionally and professionally, his home," he added.

Samson represented RR from 2013-15 and then from 2018 onwards, following a brief stint with the Delhi Capitals from 2016-17, when the franchise was banned for spot-fixing charges along with the Chennai Super Kings (CSK). He was appointed as the franchise's captain in 2021 and took them to the finals in 2022, where they lost to the Gujarat Titans.

In 130 matches for the Royals, he has scored 3,475 runs at an average of 31.02 and a strike rate of 140.57. He has scored two centuries and 20 fifties. His best score is 119.

This season, Samson has scored 264 runs at an average of 66.00, with three half-centuries. His best score is 82*.

Samson has struck at a strike rate of 155.29 and is the third-highest run-getter this season. 

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