India has always been known for producing world-class batters. However, that brings a good headache for selectors and team management to accommodate these players in the playing XI.
Team India finds itself in the same position again as the Indian middle-order is jammed-packed with amazing talent. India has struggled to find a stable number four batsman after the retirement of seniors like Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh. The number four position for the upcoming T20 World Cup is still up for grabs. One of the top contenders knocking on the door is the 27-year-old Deepak Hooda.
Hooda’s resurgence at the top level
Hooda made his T20I and ODI debut for India in February 2022. He was mainly considered a batsman who could also bowl a few overs. However, that completely changed after Hooda played for the Lucknow Supergiants in IPL 2022. He had his best IPL season as he scored 451 runs with a strike rate of 136.6 including four fifties. He scored these runs at positions ranging from number three to number five which shows his versatility.
Hooda was selected for the Ireland tour as senior players were not available. The cricketing community was eagerly waiting for Sanju Samson to make his comeback, however, Hooda ended up getting the nod from the selectors.
Hooda was thrown the curve ball to open the innings due to Ruturaj Gaikwad getting injured. He made the most of this opportunity as he scored an unbeaten 47 off 29 balls to take team India home. He picked up from where he left in the first as he smashed a century in the second T20. Hooda became only the fourth centurion for India in T20 internationals. He scored 104 runs off just 57 balls which included six huge sixes. He was the Man of the Series. Hooda rightfully got a chance in the first T20 game against England. He was again impressive by scoring 33 runs off just 17 deliveries.
How does Deepak Hooda fit into team India?
Hooda has been in tremendous form lately. Hooda’s main virtue is his versatility. He can bat anywhere between the numbers 3-7. Hooda can also bowl a couple of overs. This gives him an added advantage over contenders like Suryakumar Yadav and Shreyas Iyer. Hooda also had a healthy mix of power-hitting shots and technically sound cricket shots.
The only issue for Hooda would be the landscape of the Indian middle-order. The selectors have selected Dinesh Karthik and are consistently sticking to him. This specifies that he will bat at number six with Hardik Pandya at number five. The number four spot, therefore, would be a toss-up between Rishabh Pant, Suryakumar Yadav, and Deepak Hooda. Pant and Yadav would be the front runners for that number four spot. However, in case of an injury, Hooda will get a chance. Deepak Hooda will always stay on the selector’s radar irrespective of the T20 WC.
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