Legendary batsman Brian Lara defended newly-appointed Rajasthan Royals captain Sanju Samson’s decision to deny strike to Chris Morris in a tense last-over finish against Punjab Kings in their Indian Premier League 2021 opening match in Mumbai on Monday.
Sanju Samson single-handedly took Rajasthan Royals close to the finish line in a mammoth chase of 222 against Punjab Kings. However, Samson’s record-breaking 119 was not enough as the Kings survived the scare and sealed a 4-run win.
Sanju Samson was left with a lot to do as their star batsmen Ben Stokes (0) and Jos Buttler (25) did not chip in with big knocks after the Royals conceded 221 at the Wankhede Stadium.
Despite losing partners at regular intervals, Sanju Samson kept punishing the Punjab bowlers, hitting as many as 7 sixes and 12 boundaries. He became the first man to hit a hundred on captaincy debut in the IPL but the season opener ended in a heartbreak for the Royals.
Sanju Samson got the equation down to 22 runs from 12 balls but losing Rahul Tewatia in the penultimate over meant the Royals needed 13 runs in the last over. KL Rahul threw the ball to young Arshdeep Singh and the left-arm pacer delivered by conceded just 8 runs in tense last over.
Sanju Samson was joined by Chris Morris after Tewatia’s exit but the South Africa all-rounder, who broke the record for the costliest player at an IPL auction, was struggling to get his timing right.
Samson hit a six in the 4th ball of the over and brought the equation down to 5 from 2 balls. However, he denied the strike to Morris despite hitting one to the cover boundary in the penultimate delivery of the match.
“I think it was the right decision. I think if anybody had to hit a boundary, it had to be Sanju Samson. If he had gone back for the 2nd run, there was an opportunity to get him run-out. I think he did the right thing. No doubts about it in my mind. Tremendous innings. I would not point fingers at him for not taking that single in the last over,” Lara told Star Sports.