Hardik Pandya-led Team India got off to a winning start in the two-match T20I series against Ireland as the side outclassed the hosts by seven wickets in the first T20I on Sunday. Chasing 109 in 12 overs, India cruised home with seven wickets in hand and 16 balls to spare as Deepak Hooda played an unbeaten knock of 47. However, what surprised everyone was the fact that it was Hooda who came out to open alongside Ishan Kishan rather than the designated opener Ruturaj Gaikwad.
Speaking at a virtual press conference after the game, skipper Hardik explained why Ruturaj did not come out to open.
“Rutu (Ruturaj Gaikwad) had a niggle in his calf. We had the opportunity of taking a risk and sending him in to open, but I was not okay with it. A player’s well-being is more important, and I thought we’ll be able to manage what happens in the match. It was quite simple after that, there wasn’t much of a decision to make, whatever our batting-order numbers were, we all went up one spot, and it wasn’t a headache. We wanted to make sure we weren’t taking any chances with Rutu,” said Hardik during the press conference.
Talking about debutant Umran Malik, Hardik said: “When you play for India for the first time, and the journey he has taken, it’s important to give such a bowler and such a talent time. Whether it was a good day or a bad day is irrelevant. For him, just to play for India is itself a very big thing, and that is something which I’m very happy for, irrespective of how the result went, good or bad, it’s okay.”
“It’s part and parcel of the game, but at the same point of time, from here he’ll only get better, the more matches he plays, and it’s a big thing for him to play for India, for anyone to play for India. I want to let him enjoy this moment because it doesn’t come every time. A debut happens only once,” he added.
It was Ireland’s Harry Tector who was the shining spot with the bat for the hosts as he played a knock of 64 runs off just 33 balls, and he was the one who helped Ireland post 108 in 12 overs.
“He played some fantastic shots, and obviously, he’s 22, I’ve given him a bat as well, so maybe he can score some more sixes and maybe get an IPL contract, and I wish him luck. Just look after him well, give him the right guidance. It’s not always about cricket, it’s about understanding your whole lifestyle and what is at stake. If you can manage that, I’m sure he’s going to be around – not just in IPL, in all the leagues in the world,” said Hardik.
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