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Deepak Hooda big option for India’s 2023 ODI World Cup team: Irfan Pathan | Cricket News


MUMBAI: It can safely be said that since he made his debut for India in T20Is against Sri Lanka in Lucknow on February 24 last year, Deepak Hooda hasn’t been given a fair run or used judiciously by India. However, if they intend to build a solid team for the next two white ball World Cups (50-over WC this year, and then the T20 WC in 2024), India need to give this big-hitting allrounder a longer run, especially in the role of a finisher.
In 16 T20Is, the 27-year-old has scored 343 runs@38.11, including a 57-ball 104 against Ireland at Malahide on June 28, 2022, while batting at No 3. However, that innings failed to see Hooda seal a permanent spot in India’s T20I team. He endured an ordinary time in the Asia Cup, but it didn’t help that he batted at No 7 and wasn’t used as a bowler. In the subsequent T20 World Cup in Australia, all he got was one game against South Africa on a tough pitch at Perth, where he was out for a duck.
On Tuesday night in the opening T20I against Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium, Hooda provided ample proof of how effective he can be at No 6 for India, smashing 4 sixes in an unbeaten 41 off 23 balls that proved to be the difference as India scampered to a 2-run win.
“Apart from that one failure in Perth, he’s scored runs consistently whenever he’s got an opportunity. He has opened for India, and batted at different positions. The good thing about Hooda is that his attitude is very positive. He just wants to play and contribute. He’s a utility cricketer, he’s batter who’s ready to bat anywhere, he’s a gun fielder, and plus he bowls-in New Zealand he got a four-fer (4-10 at Mount Maunganui in a T20I)” Irfan Pathan who has seen Hooda from close quarters and mentored him at Baroda, told TOI.
It helped Hooda that he struck form while playing for Rajasthan in the two games that he played in the Ranji Trophy in the period between the New Zealand tour and this series. “The good thing is that he scored two hundreds (133 & 155* against Kerala) & a 94 (vs Puducherry). He’s scoring runs consistently.
Pathan wants Hooda to be seen as a viable option for the 2023 ODI World Cup in India. “I’m hoping that if he gets a long run, Hooda can be an important part of the team for this year’s ODI World Cup. This is purely because currently, he’s the only specialist batter we have who can bowl too. He thus adds balance to the team. If he continues his current white-ball form for the next 9 months, there’s nothing wrong in picking him for the ODI World Cup,” felt Pathan.
Stressing on Hooda’s utility as an allrounder, Pathan said, “Playing in India, a batting allrounder always helps the team, which is why he should be a big option for the ODI World Cup. We won the 2011 ODI World Cup in India because we had quite a few batters who could bowl. Similarly, we won the 1983 ODI & 2007 T20 World Cups because we had allrounders in those teams. So, if we have guys like Hooda who can contribute with both bat and ball, it will be an advantage for us. As a fast bowling allrounder, Hardik Pandya is worth his weight in gold, but in Hooda, you can have a second-best option.”
“This is why he’s regularly getting opportunities in white-ball cricket. The team management is backing him with an aim to use him in the ODI World Cup,” Pathan observed.
During his knock, Hooda showed his prowess against spin, taking apart Lanka’s world-class tweakers Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana, who had till then maintained a stranglehold on the Indian batsmen. “In the 50-over World Cup, we will need a guy like him who can play spin well in the middle over, someone who can manoeuvre the strike and hit those big shots as well,” recommended Pathan.
During this knock, which saw him pull India out of a crisis-they were 77-4 in the 11th over when he walked in- and in life in general, Hooda has shown that he has steely determination to bounce back from a difficult situation. “He’s a tough lad. Like all Jats, he’s a strong character. He’s got a good physique as well. He’s seen ups and downs in his life and worked hard to get here. When you have a kid like that, who has come up the hard way, who’s seen so much, and playing so well at 27, it means that he’s at the peak of his career. The Indian team can take advantage of it,” stressed Pathan.



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