Former India batter Sanjay Manjrekar was all praise for Sanju Samson after the visitors defeated South Africa in the three-match ODI series on Thursday. Samson hit a maiden international century to set up a 78-run for India in the series decider in Paarl. The wicketkeeper-batter made 108 off 114 balls, smashing six fours and three sixes, as India posted a total of 296/8 after being invited to bat. The knock came as a huge relief for Samson, who has not able to cement his place in the team, despite boasting an average of over 50 in the format.

Manjrekar hailed Samson for keeping his natural instincts in check, adding that his admiration for the player has grown significantly following the knock in Paarl.

“Had Sanju Samson got a blazing 100 in 80 balls, you would have said well done Sanju! But that he came into bat in the 5th over & got his 100 in the 44th over & played to the team needs, seemingly against his nature, my admiration for Samson has grown considerably today,” Manjrekar posted on social media platform X.

Manjrekar also labelled Samson “as the find of the series”.

“Sanju Samson was the biggest find of the series for India because we have been waiting for this moment for many years,” Manjrekar told ESPNcricinfo.

Samson was overlooked for the ODI World Cup in India with selectors preferring to go with the likes of Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav despite the Kerala batter averaging 55.7 at a strike rate of 104 in 13 ODI innings.

The player admitted that the last few months have been mentally challenging for him.

“The last three, four months were challenging for me mentally,” Sanju said after the 78-run win on Thursday.

“So going through all that and coming here I think doing what I did today, I think I feel really happy and grateful.” Samson was also not picked for the Asian Games, indicating that he is really low in the selectors’ pecking order.

“Honestly, I think I was not looking at the scorecard. Until I had a partnership with Tilak till then I just wanted to play and like go with the merit. I just watched the ball and bat and the boundaries and the scoring options ultimately happened.

“So I was just focused on the process and playing one ball at a time and then I think the scorecard kept on ticking.

(With PTI Inputs)

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