A consistent run-scorer for Karnataka in the domestic circuit, Samarth will take over captaincy from Karun Nair, who led the side in the recently concluded 2021 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, the newly appointed Karnataka skipper shed light on his thoughts about the new role and the challenge that lies ahead.
"To be named as captain is a great honour. To represent Karnataka itself is a big thing and to be captain now, I am feeling great. Everyone at home is feeling very happy. Looking forward to a good tournament."
For the upcoming 2021 edition of the domestic 50-over competition, which is reported to commence on February 20th, the defending champions will be without the services of last season's captain Manish Pandey and the duo of KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal.
Despite the absence of some big names, Samarth believes the time is ripe for youngsters in the team to step up and make an impact.
"Without the Big 3 (Rahul, Manish, Agarwal), we've done well before. We've won the tournament when they weren't around. Only KL came back for the final, we didn't have Manish or Vinay. I'm sure we can do it with the youngsters coming in. A lot of them will be energetic and ready for the challenge, and hopefully we win it this year as well."
Karnataka have handed maiden call-ups to pacer Vyshak Vijaykumar and prodigious batsman Nikin Jose, while wicket-keeper batsman Rakshith Shivkumar has found a spot in the 22-member squad too.
"Hope to see youngsters cultivate the winning habit" - R Samarth
Karnataka are one of the most successful teams in Vijay Hazare Trophy history, having won the title on four occasions. Karnataka's first title win came in the 2013-14 season, and that was followed up by a victorious campaign in the very next edition.
Karun Nair led Karnataka to their third title in the 2017-18 tournament, two seasons before a famous 1-run win over Tamil Nadu in the final of the 2019-20 Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Referring to the key to Karnataka's success in the tournament, Samarth is eager to see the fresh blood inducted into the team settle into the team culture right away.
"It's a great experience for them, they will be rubbing shoulders with some of the best players from Karnataka, they can learn a lot. There's Devdutt as well, who's been doing well for the past 2-3 years. It's important they can learn all the good things from everyone and hopefully they can cultivate the winning habit that Karnataka has got for many years."
On a personal level, the 28-year-old Karnataka captain is itching to get back on the field for the tournament, having missed the entire 2019-20 season due to injury. Ahead of the grueling challenge, Samarth claims he's in a good space and is eager to do well with the bat for his side.
"I haven't changed anything in my batting for many years, I don't intend on doing it either unless it will help me majorly. I'm batting well, I don't think you should make too many changes when you're doing good. Hopefully this continues into the tournament."
From 32 List A matches thus far, Samarth has notched up 1168 runs at an average of 41.71. With four centuries and six half-centuries to his name, Samarth will hope to lead from the front and get some runs under his belt in the 2021 Vijay Hazare Trophy.