Mumbai Indians (MI) have been a formidable force in the IPL, but if any team have had the wood over them in recent years, it is the Rajasthan Royals. The Royals have won five of six games against the defending champions since 2018, barring the Thursday clash.
Sanju Samson's three best knocks against MI
Sanju Samson is a player who particularly enjoys playing against the Mumbai-based side. Sanju Samson has scored the most runs (527) in clashes between the two teams; the RR captain scored 42 against MI on Thursday, albeit in a losing cause.
On that note, let's take a look at the top three knocks Sanju Samson has played against MI over the years.
#1 60 off 48 - IPL 2016 (in Delhi)
Sanju Samson's arrival on the big stage in IPL 2016 was a significant period for him.
After being traded from his current franchise (RR), Sanju Samson was set to make his mark on a Delhi Daredevils (now called Delhi Capitals) side itching to get their hands on the trophy. Samson took centre stage in the early phase of the tournament with knock of 60 against the then-defending champions.
Having walked in at 11-1 on a steamy afternoon in Delhi, Sanju Samson anchored the innings even as wickets continued to tumble at the other end. On a tricky surface, Samson ensured he stayed busy in the middle overs, going after the MI spinners to ensure DC set up a defendable target.
His 48-ball 60 displayed the temperament the young man from Kerala possessed. His knock ultimately came to a tame end when he looked to force the issue in the death overs. That vital knock proved to be the difference in the game, as DC won the match by 10 runs, and Sanju Samson earned the IPL Man of the Match award for his splendid performance.
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#2 76 off 46 - IPL 2015 (in Mumbai)
This thrilling game at the Wankhede provided an early glimpse of the potential of Sanju Samson, the attacking batsman.
MI had set a target of 188 for the Rajasthan Royals, which seemed about par on the high-scoring ground. But the youngster walked in at no. 3, oozed class that day and threatening to beat the hosts.
With the run rate mounting, Samson took it upon himself to take on the formidable MI bowling attack, ensuring he kept up with the required run rate in the middle overs. Even as wickets continued to tumble at the other end, Sanju Samson was the lone warrior in the RR innings.
Samson's 46-ball 76, which included seven boundaries and two sixes, at a strike rate of 165, was a knock that kept fans on the edge of their seats. RR were cruising in their run chase till the 17th over before Samson got out to McClenaghan, with 27 runs required.
RR inexplicably lost the game, but Sanju Samson's valiant knock, which comprised some eye-catching strokes (particularly a maximum over cow corner to Malinga), impressed one and sundry.
#3 74 off 47 - 2014 (in Mumbai)
In one of the most iconic games in IPL history, Sanju Samson yet again proved his attacking prowess, this time as an opening batsman. In an essentially knockout game, RR were favourites to go through to the playoffs after Samson's scintillating knock.
In his 47-ball-74 knock, Samson flaunted his 360-degree range against one of the best bowling attacks in the tournament. He particularly took a liking to the spinners, Harbhajan Singh, Shreyas Gopal and Pragyan Ojha. The youngster unleashed a flurry of tone-setting sweeps followed by some mesmerising inside-out strokes to give his team a platform to set a mammoth target.
It was perhaps the youngster's best innings in terms of the shots he played that day. However, it was not enough to take his team past the finish line. In fact, Mumbai Indians not only chased down the target, but they also did so in the 14.4 overs to qualify for the playoffs at RR's expense.
Courtesy of an absolute hammering from Corey Anderson and a last-ball six from Aditya Tare, MI won a nail-biter in the most dramatic way possible. Amongst all the drama and Rahul Dravid infamously throwing his cap to the ground in frustration, Sanju Samson's knock tended to be something most fans forgot.
Life has come full circle for Sanju Samson. He is now the captain of the side he made his IPL debut with. But inconsistency continues to blight his campaign. After a swashbuckling century in the season-opener against PBKS, Samson showed a semblance of a return to form, scoring 42 against the defending champions.