Sanju Samson has stated that the relationship he shares with Rishabh Pant is a friendly one and he does not see his contemporary as his competitor. The wicket-keeper batsman last made a T20I appearance for India during the last two fixtures of the five-match series in New Zealand, earlier this year.
After a year of being included in the India squad, Sanju Samson finally made his international debut for India in the 2nd T20I, at Harare, against Zimbabwe in 2015. A second-string Indian side had lost the away game as they failed to chased down 146. The then debutant’s contribution was a mere 24-ball 19 runs and for the next four years, he was rather forgotten by the national selectors. It was in January 2020 that Samson made a comeback to the T20I team when he played against Sri Lanka in Pune. However, once again, he failed to make an impression as he only managed to score 6 runs.
All the while, Samson had to see his former Delhi Capitals teammate Rishabh Pant leapfrog him as the No.1 choice in the limited-overs side, but the Kerala man attested that he does not see Pant as his competitor and added that himself and Pant are very good friends off the field.
"I think it all depends on the team combination. I never thought about all these lines (competition with Rishabh Pant). As a cricketer when you're competing or when you're trying to get into a sport, if you have an eye on other players - I don't think that's the way to play your cricket. Rishabh and I started playing for Delhi Daredevils in the IPL and we spent a lot of time together. We are really good friends. He is a talented player. We really enjoyed playing together. I've played a lot of innings with him," Sanju was quoted as saying by TOI.
Samson further recalled an incident with Pant, when they played against Gujarat Lions for Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals) and chased down a target of 209. Together, the youngsters put up a 143-run second-wicket partnership to take their team to a big win. Samson attested that he cherishes those memories with Pant and hence can’t see him merely as his competitor.
"Whenever people talk to me about my competition with Pant, I like to think about me and him playing together. Not just play, we also have a lot of fun together. I think it will be a really good thing - we are known to dominate bowlers and we have done it in the past as well. So, I always look forward to playing with Pant. I don't consider myself competing with him," he added.