Swashbuckling keeper-batter Sanju Samson is Rajasthan Royals' "long-term leader", the IPL franchise's director of cricket, Kumar Sangakkara, said on Thursday while terming his retention a "no-brainer". (More Cricket News)
Ahead of the IPL 2022 auction, the franchise retained two Indians and one overseas player in the form of their influential skipper Samson, uncapped young batter Yashasvi Jaiswal and star Englishman Jos Buttler.
"We worked really hard in terms of working with our newly-formed data analytic team, with the help of all our partners in India and in the US we finally decided, of course Sanju Samson, it was a no-brainer in terms of being our captain, number one," Sangakkara said in a video posted by RR on Twitter.
"He is going to be the long-term leader of this unit of Rajasthan Royals. He is an exceptional player and he has shown time and time again what a wonderful asset he has been for RR."
Having appointed Samson as their captain before the 2021 season, the Royals have chosen the batter as the first retained player for Rs 14 crore.
Their second retained player at a cost of Rs 10 crore is the ODI World Cup-winning Buttler, considered by many as one of the best T20I batters in the world currently.
The 19-year-old Jaiswal has become the second-youngest player ever to be retained across all IPL teams before the mega auction. His skipper Samson remains the youngest at 19 years and 2 months.
"We have retained Yashasvi Jaiswal, the young Indian opener, an absolute star in the making, he had a very very good season pre-retention, extremely talented. He is a very very quick learner, he is a hard worker and he will be our uncapped retention," Sangakkara said.
"In terms of the sole international retention we have gone with Jos Buttler. Again, phenomenal player. Everyone in the world knows what he can do, whether at the top of the order or middle order or wherever he plays. He is an exceptional match winner."
The Lankan legend explained why they let go of Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes, which surprised many.
"It was quite a tough choice for all of us to sit down and run through the names, the options, the auction nitty gritty in terms of managing our retention and our purse, what the best options and permutations were.
"... once the auction rules are announced, we dig a lot deeper and we do a lot of work in terms of analytic and evaluation of what the best options are for us in terms of how many retentions, who are they, what is the ideal sweetspot in terms of an auction purse?
"So on so forth, and we break it down into as much detail as possible so that we have all the tools with which to make the information as well with which to make the right decision."
Both Stokes and Archer missed the UAE leg of IPL 2021 through injury, with the former also attributing his absence to issues related to his mental health.
Sangakkara was full of praise for Stokes.
"Ben Stokes - the best all-rounder I have seen in a very very long time, an absolute match winner and he has shown that for Rajasthan Royals. Absolutely brilliant as a team man, brilliant in a leadership role.
"He just brings his amazing energy to the field but of course, we had to consider the number of retentions spots, player availability.
"And we had to look at the host of other dynamics as well in terms of injuries, in terms of various other aspects, and it's always an extremely tough decision to make when we have these limited number of spots.
Talking about Archer, Sangakkara said: "...we did everything to ascertain the nature of the injury, the recovery period, his ability to come back. Once all of these dynamics come into play, it's very difficult to go into an auction with too many questions in our minds.
"I know the players themselves understand our reasoning, even though they may be disappointed. I am sure they are as we are as a franchise."