In a bid to shore up a struggling middle order, David Warner handed Abdul Samad a debut ahead of Sunrisers Hyderabad’s (SRH) IPL 2020 clash against high-flying Delhi Capitals (DC). Here’s all you need to know about the young batsman.
There was much interest in Abdul Samad when SRH signed the little-known batsman for INR 20 lakh at the auctions in December 2019. With the team still struggling to find their right middle order combination, the management has turned to Samad.
It’s one of the more anticipated moves as far as SRH are concerned. Samad is coming into the IPL on the back of a fantastic maiden first-class campaign, in which he excelled for Jammu & Kashmir on all fronts. Incredibly, he’s still just 18.
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What puts his position in focus all the more is the fact that he is one of the few players from the Jammu & Kashmir region to play in the IPL. He might well struggle in his maiden outing – the IPL is an elite tournament and it’ll take some getting used to – but his finishing skills will surely be one to watch out for.
We look at his journey.
Abdul Samad – The early years
SRH after 15 overs: 121-2
SRH after 17 overs: 135-6
— Wisden India (@WisdenIndia) September 21, 2020
Samad, born in the Kalakot village in Jammu, wanted to emulate Rohit Sharma as a youngster. He liked hitting it big, and made a reputation doing that in Jammu’s age-group levels, so much that Irfan Pathan, the former India all-rounder and mentor of the J&K side, was struck by his skills during a trial in 2018. “Uff, that power, man. Baap re,” Pathan was quoted as saying of Samad by ESPNcricinfo.
Samad was soon drafted into the J&K side and his game – an ubridled love for hitting sixes – was ironed out. He would soon become an integral part of the senior J&K side, despte his tender age.
Abdul Samad – Making an impression
Samad made his J&K debut in a T20 against Nagaland in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in the 2018/19 season. He scored a 51-ball 76* as an opener, He has since played 10 more T20s, and despite shifting down the order, still averages 40.
However, it is, curiously, in the longer formats that he has impressed formats. In the Ranji Trophy, following his debut in December last year, his runs were crucial as J&K made the quarter-finals of the tournament – a feat all the more significant given their preparations for the season were disrupted due to political reasons.
Samad hit 592 runs in 10 matches, and was top-scorer for J&K. The highlight came against Jharkhand in Ranchi, when his 75-ball 128 in the first-innings helped J&K to an innings victory. The knock followed a 103* against Assam in the match before.
Abdul Samad – The IPL dream
Young Abdul Samad is all set to make his debut for @SunRisers.
— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) September 29, 2020
Shortly after making his first-class debut, Samad was signed up – much to great fanfare in his neighbourhood – by SRH. The move was in the works for a while though.
VVS Laxman, the SRH mentor, had called up Milap Mewada the month before, asking for a finisher. Mewada had little hesistation in suggesting Samad’s name. Later that month, Samad slammed a quick 48 during SRH trials in Hyderabad, with his team needing 80 to win off seven overs.
He’d done enough to impress, as Laxman and Co. signed him up in the auctions next month.
Abdul Samad – The composure
Samad is level-headed. That much is evident with his handling of all the hype following his landing of the IPL gig. “People keep asking me, ‘How does it feel to be in IPL?’” the ESPNcricinfo report quotes him as saying. “I tell them, ‘Wait, wait. I’m not there yet. I will experience it and tell you. Until then, I can only dream, like you all.'”
He’s there now. And chances are, he’ll be around for a while.