Deepak Hooda understands the difficulties of batting at the tricky No. 6 position in T20Is and has conditioned himself for any sort of collapse like it happened in India’s narrow win against Sri Lanka in the opening game. Hooda came in with India precariously placed at 77 for 4 and his 23-ball-41 with four sixes got India to a defendable total of 162. His effort earned him the ‘player-of-the-match’ award. Asked if there was pressure on him when he came in to bat during a crucial part of the innings with India having lost the top and middle order, Hooda said, “I was pretty clear in my mind that if we lose early wickets we have to build a partnership and when you are batting lower down the order at No.6, for a situation like that, being a cricketer, you have to be ready for that. A collapse can happen at any time.
“(But) I don’t think it was a collapse in the true sense as we were in a good position. Yes, we lost one or two extra wickets but I think that is the role of a No. 6 and No. 7 batter (to come and bat with confidence) be it the first or the second match. It’s a good win,” added Hooda at the post-match press conference.
Hooda feels he had to respect the situation and play accordingly but at the slot, he is batting, more often than not he would need to be a good finisher.
“The kind of wicket you get you to have to play accordingly. You have to give a good total to the team and that was going through my mind being a batsman. Being a No.6 batter, if you are playing at that position, you have to finish the game. So, that was the only thing going on in my mind.” Hooda said he was able to play freely after the spinners had virtually stifled the top and middle-order batters because Wanindu Hasaranga had almost completed his quota of overs and the wicket too had settled down.
“Initially, the situation did not permit hitting the ball hard, but it was his (Hasaranga’s) last over and then he bowled a loose ball as well. In a T20 game, you have to keep that intent of hitting. If you get the ball in the right area, you have to smash it. That was, I suppose the perfect time to play my game and partner Axar Patel and thankfully it got executed well,” he added.
The hard-hitting all-rounder also conceded that the hosts could have scored a few more runs.
“The (team) meeting hasn’t taken place, but we were certainly 10-12 runs short. But in the end, we got a good total,” Hooda said.
He felt that initially, the India batters struggled because there was not much dew on the Wankhede pitch and the ball tended to come slower onto the bat.
“Generally, there is dew on the Wankhede (pitch), but in the first innings, there was not much dew, because of which the wicket was a bit slow. But the way the openers started and then we finished it strongly and that’s what the game demands,” he concluded.