Ireland vs Ind 1st T20I

As India began their hunt for 109 in the first T20I against Ireland in Malahide, they sent Deepak Hooda in place of regular opener Ruturaj Gaikwad to start their innings alongside Ishan Kishan. It appeared to be a tactical decision at this point as Hooda, who scored more goals, was favored in a game reduced to 12 overs a side by rain. However, it was later revealed that Gaikwad didn’t hit because he sustained a calf knee injury.
“Rutu had a tingling sensation in his calf,” India captain Hardik Pandya said in his post-match press conference. “We made the choice to take a risk and send him in [to open], but I didn’t agree with that. A player’s well-being is more important, and [I thought] We’ll be able to manage what’s happening in the game.

“After that it was pretty easy, there wasn’t a big decision to make; whatever ours was [batting-order] Numbers were, we all went up one spot and it wasn’t a big problem. We wanted to make sure we didn’t take any chances with Rutu.”

Opening the chance proved a good opportunity for Hooda to show off his skills after sitting on the bench throughout the recently concluded five-game T20I series against South Africa. Hooda scored the highest for India with an unbeaten 47 from 29 balls as they raged on 16 balls to a seven-wicket win.

Hooda wasn’t the only unused player from the South Africa series who got a chance here. Umran Malik received his first cap for India, an event that caused quite a stir between the draw and the game’s delayed start. As it turned out, however, he only skipped one in the shortened game, giving away a four and a six to Ireland’s top scorer Harry Tector.

It was too brief an appearance to draw any conclusions from, and Hardik had words of encouragement for the fast bowler.

“When it’s your first time playing for India and the journey that he’s had, it’s important to give time to such a bowler and such a talented player,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it was a good day or a bad day. It’s a big deal for him to play for India and I’m really happy about that.” [irrespective] how the result went, good or bad, it’s okay.

“It’s an integral part of the game but at the same time he only gets better from here the more games he plays and it’s a big deal for him to play for India, for anyone who plays for India. I want to let him enjoy this moment because it doesn’t come every time. There is only one debut.”

Hardik also had a generous word for Tector, even revealing that he had given him one of his racquets when asked if the Ireland no.4’s unbeaten 64 from 33 balls portended a future in the IPL.

“He’s been playing some fantastic shots and obviously he’s 22, I gave him a racquet too so maybe he can still hit some sixes and maybe get an IPL contract and I wish him the best of luck,” Hardik said. “Just take good care of him, give him the right guidance. It’s not always about cricket; it’s about understanding your entire lifestyle and understanding what’s at stake. If you can do that, I’m sure he’ll be there – not just in IPL, in all the leagues around the world.”