A blistering century from Deepak Hooda helped India clinch the series 2-0 as they defeated Ireland by four runs in the final match in Dublin. Hooda slammed 104 off 57 balls to become the fourth Indian to score a hundred in T20Is, after Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, and KL Rahul.
Hooda looked in imperious touch and signaled his intention early in the innings with an authoritative pull off a rising delivery by Mark Adair. He forged a record 176-run stand with Sanju Samson. Both of them rarely missed a beat while showing their exceptional hitting range against both pace and spin.
Hooda kept toying with spinners, often dancing down the track to disrupt their rhythm. He whacked two sixes in the tenth over to reach his maiden fifty in just 27 balls. A dab to the point region in the 18th over took Hooda to a triple-figure score. He scored one more boundary before being undone by Joshua Little.
“To be honest, I was coming from a good IPL and wanted to follow the same performance. Happy with my intent. I like playing in that manner and these days I am batting up the order so getting some time,” said Hooda about his knock in the post-match conference.
Hooda finished the two-match series with 151 runs, and was adjudged as Player of the Series. His proficiency has created another headache for the selectors ahead of the T20 World Cup.
“Deepak Hooda owned this series. Totally. And he happens to be the man who’s not got enough changes but how do you accommodate him when the senior guys are back? Run-up to the World Cup is going to be really entertaining,” wrote former cricketer Aakash Chopra.
Despite getting most of his runs as an opener or No.3, he is unlikely to be seen as a top-order option, which is already occupied by some big names. But Hooda can now challenge for a spot of a spin-bowling all-rounder. Given Ravindra Jadeja’s ordinary returns in the last IPL, the team has now a great option in Hooda.
Image Source: BCCI