Rajasthan Royals Head Coach Kumar Sangakkara lauded Sanju Samson’s heroic effort against the Delhi Capitals at the Arun Jaitley Stadium on Tuesday that nearly took his side to victory despite chasing a high total.

The Royals captain top-scored for the side with a season-best 86 runs and took the match deep, before the visitors fell short by 20 runs, chasing DC’s 221/8. It was Samson’s fifth half-century of the ongoing Indian Premier League season, his highest tally of fifty-plus scores in a single edition. 

“With Sanju, the biggest thing about this season for him is having a lot of clarity about the way he should bat. There are certain stages of the game where he seems to lose a little bit of concentration which we have addressed from past seasons,” said Sangakkara at the post-match press conference.

“He (Samson) is really bought into his role, not just as captain but also as a batter. And he has changed his mindset about the importance of rest and recovery, rather than just training all the time and being tired mentally and physically,” he explained.

“And the rest is just his exceptional ability, he is a very special player. When he is fresh and focused there is nothing that he really can’t do.

“I think his qualities are exceptional, he is a very humble and grounded guy, and really cares for the rest of the group,” the former Sri Lanka skipper said.

Samson came up with yet another rearguard show for the Royals, as he scored 86 runs off just 46 balls and kept them in the chase for a major part of the match. Walking in at 4/1 in the third ball of the Royals’ innings, he showed attacking intent right from the word go in pursuit of a steep total.

Samson smashed five fours and three sixes in the powerplay as 38 of his 41 runs in the first six overs came in boundaries. The fall of wickets at the other end did not seem to bother him as he notched up his highest score in IPL 2024.

“He (Samson) is exceptionally talented against pace and spin. High pace doesn’t bother him, turn doesn’t bother him. It is just a case of focusing and trusting the areas that he scores and keeping that intent going,” explained Sangakkara.

“It is not just about sixes and fours but making sure a good ball goes for one or two and that kind of tempo brings the force, but again he can play any shot in the book. He has great power to clear the boundaries. He is exceptionally gifted against spin,” the head coach summed up Samson’s knock.

But Samson could not continue his free-flowing innings as he was caught in the deep trying to up the ante for the Royals. It was very unfortunate for the skipper as the fielder completed the catch inches away from the boundary rope, ending the Royals’ hope of yet another successful chase of a 200-plus score.

“It is a tough one, losses happen. We had a great run at the start of the season, but a couple of hiccups here,” Sangakkara mentioned.

“We know we have got the quality in the side, and we just got to keep training hard and getting ready. We just have to be a little bit more disciplined.”