Pune, Jan 10: Young India wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Samson made his international comeback after a gap of 1637 days when he was included in the Indian playing eleven for the third and final Twenty20 International against Sri Lanka in Pune on Friday (January 10).
The talented Kerala cricketer replaced Rishabh Pant in the playing eleven as he finally got a chance to sport the blue jersey after a gap of years. The right-handed batsman featured in his second T20I after having made his debut in 2015 against Zimbabwe.
Samson missed 73 T20Is in between his two appearances. This is the longest any player from India has had to wait to make a comeback in the shortest format of the game.
Samson, who plays for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, has been with the Indian side for the last few months but never got a chance in the Playing XI.
Samson, however, had a bittersweet comeback as he smashed a maximum on the first ball he faced but was dismissed LBW on the next delivery.
India made three changes in the side for the third T20I as Kuldeep Yadav and Shivam Dube were rested along with Pant. While Yuzvendra Chahal and Manish Pandey were included in the playing eleven to get some match practice ahead of ODI series against Australia, starting January 14.
"We have made three changes today. Sanju Samson comes in place of Rishabh Pant. Chahal replaces Kuldeep who gets a rest today and Manish Pandey gets a game in place of Shivam Dube. We are playing with five bowlers and it will be a challenge for them to defend the target," said India captain Virat Kohli said.
Kohli lost the toss but said he would have batted first anyway as he was looking to challenge.
"We wanted to bat first as we wanted to do something different today. Toss was almost irrelevant as we knew they wanted to bowl first. Batting first is something we want to do more. The trend is going towards team wanting to chase, we want to be a side who want to embrace the other aspect also so that we are better placed if things don't go our way at the toss. You can't go into the match thinking you can only do well when you chase. We want to bat first and bat well. We want to embrace difficult things as well hence the combination of the side is accordingly."