by Khalid Bashir Gura
SRINAGAR: Abdul Samad, the 19-year-old Kashmir cricketer is continuing to win hearts with his jaw-dropping performances in IPL even as his team Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) had a heartbreaking departure from the tournament after losing to Delhi on Sunday.
— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) November 8, 2020
As the team’s hopes in IPL 2020 race to winner’s title are gone, Samad’s blistering knock against the Delhi Capitals refuses to die down despite defeat.
Delhi Capitals defended a total of 189 as they defeated SRH by 17 runs and progressed to finals of IPL where defending champion Mumbai Indians are waiting for them today.
After 59 games and lots of tightly contested matches, the defending champions Mumbai Indians will lock horns in Dubai on Tuesday (November 10) with Delhi Capitals.
Delhi Capitals defeated Sunrisers Hyderabad in Qualifier 2 of the tournament to make it to their first-ever IPL final on Sunday.
On Sunday, as the boat of SRH was sinking, the 19-year-old Samad made an impact and tried to save it with a 16-ball 33.
Kane Williamson praised the youngster and said that his innings helped SRH to get back into the game as both built a crucial stand of 57. However, much to his disillusionment and his team he was unable to assure the victory of his side and take them to finals.
Samad made his IPL debut versus Delhi Capitals at Sheikh Zayed Stadium on September 29 and also ended this year’s IPL seasons last match with the same team at the same stadium on November 8.
He has played 12 IPL matches this season, scored 111 runs with a strike rate of 170. In his journey to 111 runs, he smashed 6 sixes and 8 fours. Unlike his batting, his bowling was unimpressive as in 12 matches he bagged only one wicket with an economy of 13.
But as Samad will be packing his luggage full of memories in IPL 2020, his performance is being praised by many former Indian players like Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh and Irfan Pathan who expressed hope in his talent and hard-hitting ability.
“Abdul Samad gonna be a special & Big player in future.. played some brilliant shots today specially that pull shot against Nortje,” tweeted Harbhajan Singh.
Former pacer Irfan Pathan who had a role in mentoring Samad to reach to this stage took to Twitter, saying: “Yes he should have won the game for @SunRisers but really proud of #abdulsamad for showing character and power game. #1stseasonofipl.”
Another feather added to Jammu & Kashmir’s cricketing fraternity as Abdul Samad is all set to make his ipl debut.I wish him the luck for his long career ahead! I am certain,this will create positive waves in J&K’s younger generations; who will look upto this upcoming Hero! #ipl pic.twitter.com/Abd4wykRFO
— Irfan Pathan (@IrfanPathan) September 29, 2020
It was Irfan who had noticed his hard-hitting ability. Pathan had seen the talent of the right-hander when he was working with Jammu and Kashmir as a mentor in domestic cricket.
Yuvraj Singh also responded to Pathan’s tweet as he too was in admiration of Samad’s batting and said he can be a special player in the future as he showed a lot of promise against Delhi Capitals. He tweeted: “#samad showed a lot of promise I feel can be a special player in the future.”
A big-hitting batsman, Samad struck more sixes for Jammu and Kashmir in the Ranji Trophy. He scored 592 runs in 17 innings at an eye-popping strike rate of nearly 113.
Samad became the fourth player from Jammu and Kashmir to break into the IPL after Parvez Rasool, Mansoor Dar and Rasikh Salam, when Sunrisers snapped him up for his base price of Rs 20 lakh in the December 2019 auction.
In an interview with Hindustan Times, former West Indies batsman Brian too had said about his fondness for Samad. He in fact named the right-hander in his list of young Indian batsmen who impressed in IPL 2020.
Later, Samad was declared Altroz Super Striker of the Match with an award of Rs one lakh.
“When VVS Laxman, Sunrisers’ mentor, was looking for a middle-order finisher for his franchise, Mewada, who was Laxman’s Under-19 team-mate many moons ago, recommended Samad for the role wrote,” ESPNcricinfo. Pathan and Mewada first spotted Samad as a 16-year-old in 2018, at a trial in Jammu.
“He was effortlessly hitting the ball,” Pathan told ESPNcricinfo. “But when I looked through his numbers, he didn’t have one 50-plus score. I took him aside and told him he would be put in the probables, but he needed to work on preserving his wicket. It’s not about six-hitting.”
O mankind, you are those in need of Allah, while Allah is the Free of need, the Praiseworthy. #Quran 35:15
— Abdul Samad (@RealAbsamad) October 11, 2020
Samad USP: Hitting sixes. It was on display in the Ranji Trophy.
Does he have the ability to build an innings too?
Samad has shown signs of it in the Ranji Trophy. When Jammu and Kashmir were reduced to 131 for 4 in their second innings against Maharashtra on a green track in Pune, he absorbed the pressure and averted a collapse, scoring 78 off 89 balls. His contribution was central to Jammu and Kashmir stretching their lead to 363 and eventually winning the game.
With the end of IPL 2020 for him, it will be interesting to see if his knocks will enable him to knock the IPL door next year too and possibly a changed, chiselled Samad on display.