The kids are alright: India's junior cricketers are making a mark in longer format too
Sanju Samson is perhaps the most visible of teenaged cricketers who have caught the eye recently, thanks to his performances for the Rajasthan Royals, but the Kerala batsman is just one among several youngsters who have had a fairly remarkable domestic season.
Samson (19), along with Tamil Nadu's Baba Aparajith (19), Maharashtra's Vijay Zol (19) and Hyderabad's Hanuma Vihari (20), may all belong to the T20 era, but have proved their credentials in the longer format of the Ranji trophy.
With all of the above teams, except for Maharashtra, unable to progress from the group stage, the domestic season for these cricketers is more or less over.
While all batsmen are pass-outs of the under-19 system, Aparajith and Vihari have graduated, Zol and Samson are currently with the Indian youth side playing the Asia Cup in Dubai, where they will be looking to cap off an already remarkable season.
Fresh from his exploits in the Champions League, it was a remarkable sight to Samson transform fluidly into a batsman who could concentrate for a longer period of time. Against Assam in Kerala's Ranji Trophy opener, Samson batted for almost eight hours for his 211, an inning which salvaged a floundering Kerala first innings, and allowed his side to claim the prized first innings points.
Aparajith, with 584 runs, was Tamil Nadu's most prolific batsman this season, but Vihari's season was even better. The Hyderabad batsman ended up fifth on the list of top run-getters, with 841 runs at an average of 93.44.
The batsman, who comes in at one drop, hit three successive hundreds, including a double, to end the season. Maharashtra's Zol who was unavailable for the last two rounds, scored 410 runs at a healthy average of 51.25.