Deepak Hooda gain, poser on Umran Malik
More than the outcome, what mattered for India are the takeaways from the Ireland series and the concerns that need to be addressed leading up to the T20 World Cup.
The biggest positive emerging out of those couple of T20Is at Malahide in Dublin is Deepak Hooda’s ability to excel at the top order.
Obviously, Hooda will come across stronger bowling attacks moving forward. But Hooda, playing international cricket for the first time in alien conditions, deserves plaudits for the adjustments he made en route to his unbeaten 47 in the first T20I and a swashbuckling 104 in the second. That too, batting at No.3.
The 27-year-old went about his knocks banking on proper cricketing strokes. He also proved his strength in playing the pull shot and clearing the ground effortlessly.
He had batted a few times at No.3 in this year’s IPL, though, for debutants Lucknow Super Giants. But then, international cricket is always a different cup of tea, especially when tackling overseas conditions.
For India, Hooda’s heroics have certainly given them a decent option for the No.3 slot. And to speak of the man himself, it’s his “warrior” mindset that has been his guiding factor since his acrimonious exit from Baroda following a spat with Krunal Pandya.
“When batting at the top order, you have to cope with the challenges as you don’t have any option. And if you don’t have any option, then why don’t you go there like a warrior?
“That’s how I thought, and things turned in my favour,” Hooda said after Tuesday’s game.
Alongside Hooda, another plus for India from the Ireland tour is Hardik Pandya’s leadership. In his maiden international captaincy stint after leading the Gujarat Titans to IPL glory in their debut season, Hardik got most of his moves correct. More importantly, he remained calm and ensured he avoided tactical errors even as the situation got really scary for his team during Tuesday’s game.
It’s humanly not possible for senior pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar to deliver in every game. But it’s a major cause of concern for India if other bowlers fail to step up when Bhuvneshwar isn’t firing and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal is unavailable.
Umran Malik’s much-awaited international debut finally materialised. But in the five overs he bowled across these two games, he conceded 56 runs with just one wicket. Agreed, Umran defended those 17 runs off the deciding over of the second T20I. But he had almost messed it up as well with a no-ball and two boundaries bowling the wrong length. A stronger opposition could have made it worse for him.
Head coach Rahul Dravid had been spot-on with his analysis. To be absolutely ready for the international stage, Umran has to go through the rigours of domestic cricket.
Just steaming in and hurling deliveries in excess of 150kmph isn’t enough in international cricket.