About 15 years ago, Viswanath Samson took his 11-year-old son to the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium on a chilly evening in Delhi. On the notice board outside was the list of children selected from previous trials for the U-13 camp in Delhi. Viswanath was confident that his son would make it, as his performance during the exams had caught everyone’s attention. But the father and son were in shock. The boy’s name was missing from the list, while a few others who seemed to be doing badly managed to get on. Viswanath comforted his son with a pizza on his return home. At home, an angry Viswanath told his wife to “pack”. The family returned to their ancestral home on the Vizhinjam coast in Thiruvananthapuram within weeks when Viswanath voluntarily retired from the Delhi police.
Cut to 2013. Viswanath was back with Feroz Shah Kotla. This time on a posh seat in the gallery when Rajasthan Royals played against Mumbai Indians in the Champions League T20 final. The whole stadium cheered an 18-year-old boy who hit the Mumbai bowlers in all parts of the ground in the middle. The name, which was not on Kotla’s bulletin board all those years ago, was on everyone’s lips in the stadium and millions who saw it on television – Sanju Samson had arrived at the crime scene. After a debut IPL season in which he won the Best Young Player Award, the Champions League campaign strengthened his references as a star for the future.