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Deepak Hooda's career-best and the promise

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Deepak Hooda snared 4/10 in the second T20I against New Zealand in Mount Maunganui, a haul that could turn out to be key for his future in India's starting XI.

Deepak Hooda played just one match for India in the recently concluded ICC Men's T20 World Cup in Australia - against South Africa, a team with an abundance of left-handed batting options in the top seven.

Hooda's part-time off-spin was deemed to be the reason for his selection with former India opener Gautam Gambhir opining on it on Star Sports.

“India has gone with five bowlers and Hooda is your sixth and then it probably could be because South Africa has got a couple of left-handers in their line-up," Gambhir said then.

"They have got Miller, De Kock and Rossouw. Probably Hooda can chip in with one or two overs."

Hooda, however, did not come on to bowl in the Super 12 game which India went on to lose. 

Less than a month since, in the neighbouring country, Hooda has picked up the best bowling figures by an Indian bowler in T20Is in New Zealand.

His 4/10 wasn't game-turning so to speak, but the career-best haul from the off-spinner makes a strong case for Hooda to be in India's strongest XI in this format where India have struggled for part-time bowling options from the top six.

Skipper Hardik Pandya was pretty clear at the post-match presentation when he said that he wanted batters to contribute with the ball like how Hooda did.

"The conditions were very wet, so credit to the bowlers," Hardik said at the end of the game.

"I have bowled a lot, going forward I want to see more bowling options. This may not work always but I want more batters to chip in with the ball. I expect them to be professional, which they are."

It's notable that since 2021, India have had very few batters chipping in with the ball outside the regular all-rounders. 

Venkatesh Iyer and Hooda are the only two batters to bowl more than an over with the ball for India in T20Is in the last two years.

Hooda's latest haul, one that included three wickets of tail-enders, might not be a game-changing one, but it offers India a chance to use his all-round skills more.

With him already showing immense promise with the bat — a century against Ireland earlier in the year possibly propelled him into the T20 World Cup squad in the first place — Hooda could be a useful option in India's top six going forward.


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