Sangakkara backs captain Samson after Rajasthan's narrow loss


Rajasthan Royals team director Kumar Sangakkara has given his backing to captain Sanju Samson after he turned down a single against Punjab Kings on the penultimate ball to retain strike but failed to hit the winning runs on the last ball in Monday's Indian Premier League game.

Rajasthan needed five runs from the last two balls of the final over at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium, with Samson unbeaten on a brilliant 119 in their thrilling chase of 222.

Having hit seamer Arshdeep Singh for a six on the fourth ball of the over, Samson refused to take a run on the next and sent back a shocked Chris Morris, leaving Rajasthan needing five runs to win.

Right-hander Samson then failed to clear the boundary on the last ball as Deepak Hooda took the catch a few yards inside the rope, sparking celebrations among his Punjab team mates.

But far from reading Samson the riot act, Sri Lankan batting great Sangakkara said he was pleased to see him take the responsibility on his shoulders.

"I think Sanju backed himself to get the job done and he nearly did," Sangakkara told reporters.

"He was five or six yards short of hitting the last ball for a six and sometimes when you know you're hitting the ball well and you're in form and you believe that you can do it, you've got to take that responsibility.

"And it was really encouraging to see Sanju do that."

South African all-rounder Morris had faced just four balls while Samson had already hit 12 fours and seven sixes.

"We can always talk about a missed single here or there but the crucial thing for me is the players' belief in attitude and commitment and they know what their strengths are," Sangakkara added.

"... but the next time I'll believe he'll hit it that 10 yards further to win us the game." 

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