Thiruvananthapuram, July 19: The coastal village of Pallithura, home to cricketer Sanju Samson near here, was on cloud nine when the news flashed that the 20-year-old will be playing in the second and final Twenty20 International against Zimbabwe in Harare on Sunday.
Though he is the third Keralite to don the national colours, after Tinu Yohanan and S. Sreesanth, Samson is the first to be selected for his wickekeeping and batting skills.
A big crowd was waiting in front of his home and when the announcement came, and the locals expressed their happiness by shouting his name.
"He is such a cool and calm boy and we are all really happy and excited as he has reached a level not many can even dream. Our prayers are with him," said a middle-aged man who was leading a group of cheering locals.
A boy who claimed to be Samson's friend said: "We are thick friends and when he left for Zimbabwe, he was supremely confident of doing well. We are all waiting now to see him bat. He is such an unassuming boy despite all the glory."
The crowd grew around Samson's home, which was locked as his parents and brother were at Kollam to attend a meeting organised by the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) where Samson is being honoured for being the best player of 2014.
"We are really delighted that the news came when the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the KCA was going on. This is great news for Kerala cricket and our job is to create proper infrastructure, which we are doing," said KCA president T.C. Mathew.
The glovesman was lucky to get a late call to the Indian team after batsman Ambati Rayudu was left out due to an injury and it was only on Thursday that Samson reached the Zimbabwean capital. Samson on Sunday received his India cap from opening batsman Murali Vijay.
This is the second time that Samson has been selected. The first was when he was included for the limited over series against England in 2014, but he had to cool himself on the bench then.
Samson's selection on July 13 came soon after he was named Kerala captain, making him the youngest skipper of the state side.
Sony Chervathoor, Samson's senior colleague in the Kerala Ranji Trophy team, said their prayers have been answered.
"It's not that he is playing today, but let it be the beginning of long innings for Samson. Each one of us is really happy for him," said Chervathoor.