As India overcame a significant scare to overcome Ireland by four runs in a nail-biting high-scoring second T20 International on Tuesday, sweeping the two-match series, Deepak Hooda struck a masterful first century.
Sanju Samson provided 77 off 42 balls, and Hooda contributed 104 off 57 balls to help India to a massive 225 for 7 after electing to bat. Hooda became only the fourth Indian to strike a T20 International century.
Irish batsmen Andy Balbirnie (60 off 37), Paul Stirling (40 off 18), Harry Tector (39 off 28), and George Dockrell (34 not out off 16) led the charge up to the last over. Still, they ultimately fell short when India’s rookie bowler Umran Malik protected 17 runs in the decisive.
Hooda decided to bat, and with his brilliant stroke play from the front and back foot, he demonstrated that he belonged on the big stage.
Hooda was proficient at delivering the ball over the midwicket boundary for a couple of sixes while still being graceful and at ease on the front foot.
Hooda added nine fours and six hits over the fence to his score.
Sanju Samson, who opened the batting in place of the injured Ruturaj Gaikwad, provided him with adequate assistance. He played second fiddle but made the most of his chance.
The strokeplay down the ground by Hooda and Samson was visually pleasing.
Stirling and Balbirnie shared 72 runs for the first wicket off only 34 balls as Ireland got their chase off to a rousing start. Stirling attacked the world with hammers and tongs.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar was challenged by Stirling, who scored 18 runs from the first over by hitting the bowler for six and three boundaries. Then Stirling hit captain Hardik Pandya for a six.
The opening pair maintained their aggressive approach to scoring Ireland’s 50 without loss in only four overs.
The threatening 72-run opening partnership was broken in the sixth over by leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi, who also eliminated Stirling.
Bishnoi had Balbirnie stumped by Ishan Kishan during his subsequent over, but it turned out to be a huge no-ball.
Balbirnie took advantage of the opportunity and smacked every Indian bowler to every field area to maintain Ireland at level with the asking rate.
He was especially harsh on the new speed wonder Malik, sending his short deliveries over the fence as Ireland reached their century in nine overs with the cost of only two wickets.
Before being caught by Bishnoi off Harshal Patel, Balbirnie had scored his sixth fifty in a T20 International match off 34 balls.
To win the game and even the series, the hosts required a six off the last ball, but Tector, Dockrell, and Mark Adair (23 not out off 12 balls) kept Ireland in the game. However, Adair could only complete one run as Malik fulfilled his captain’s request.
India had a rough start earlier since they lost Ishan Kishan (3) early. Another chance was lost by the left-handed opener when he nicked a Mark Adair ball to Lorcan Tucker behind the stumps in the third over.
Hooda and Samson partnered up, and the pair batted quickly—despite missing two good chances—to split 176 runs off only 85 balls and create the groundwork for India’s enormous total.
After Kishan was dismissed, Hooda and Samson started tormenting the Irish bowlers and wouldn’t let them calm down.
Hooda played a flawless knock, except for a challenging opportunity that Paul Stirling lost at extra off in the eighth over.
In the ninth over, when leg-spinner Gareth Delany missed a challenging caught-and-bowled opportunity, Samson was also given life.
Samson also had lovely strokes, especially while playing off the back foot during his century-plus hit. Adair, though, took care of him in the 17th over.
Hooda joined the exclusive company of just four Indian century players in the T20I format as he reached his first century off 55 balls with a single, joining the likes of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, and Suresh Raina.
Surya Kumar Yadav (15) and captain Hardik Pandya (13 not out) attempted to increase the team’s total when Hooda left at 212 but was unsuccessful as India lost three wickets for the addition of only 14 runs in the last two overs.