By Niharika Raina
New Delhi, Aug 13 (IANS): 2022 has seen the rise of Deepak Hooda becoming a mainstay in India's plans in white-ball cricket. In February, he made his ODI debut as a middle-order batter and in March, he got his first T20I against Sri Lanka.
Later on, Hooda had a brilliant IPL 2022, making 451 runs at a strike rate of 136.66, largely while batting at number three for Lucknow Super Giants, finishing in the top-10 run-scorers' list.
In June, he scored a T20I century from number three position against Ireland. Against the West Indies, Hooda illustrated his tight, stump-to-stump line off-spin bowling, which came in handy during the ODI and T20I series.
His hard-hitting batting and tight overs of off-spin bowling means Hooda has surged ahead of many contenders in the race for Men's T20 World Cup and possibly, next year's ODI World Cup.
With him now named in the ODI squad for the Zimbabwe series and Asia Cup in the UAE to be played in T20 format, former India left-arm spinner Maninder Singh believes Hooda can serve the national side for long.
"The amount of international cricket he has played till now and in last IPL season, he has played spectacularly. Whenever he is on the field, he has a presence and feel of a player, which is a very important factor. Whether you are batting, bowling and even if you don't get bowling as either ball is wet or spinners are not bowled much, the energy which you exhibit while fielding gives an idea of what the confidence level of a player is."
"Deepak Hooda has been amazing in IPL and the international matches he's played. The confidence on seeing him on the field and his body language are positive signs. Also, he bowls off-spin and fields well, which is a huge bonus for the team. If the captain and coach continue to give him confidence, then he can be a lambi race ka ghoda (in for the long haul)," said Maninder in an exclusive interaction with IANS organised by Sony Sports Network.
If Hooda continues to perform consistently with bat, ball and on the field, then he looks good to seal a spot in India's squad for the T20 World Cup in Australia in October-November. For now, everyone will be keeping a keen eye on what Hooda produces in ODIs against Zimbabwe, followed by the Asia Cup.