Deepak Hooda produced a masterstroke, becoming just the fourth Indian to hit a T20 international century, as the visiting side posted a mammoth 225 for 7 against Ireland in the second and final match here on Tuesday.
On his first ton of T20I (104 on 57 balls), Hooda showed he belonged on the big stage with his scintillating stroke game, both from the front and from the back.
While Hooda was sleek and comfortable on the front foot, he was equally good on the back foot, sending the ball over the midwicket boundary for a couple of sixes.
Hooda decorated his shot with nine fours and six hits over the fence. He was ably backed up by Sanju Samson, who, opening the stick for the injured Ruturaj Gaikwad, played second fiddle but seized the opportunity with both hands. Samson hit 77 of 42 with nine boundary assists and four sixes.
Hooda and Samson’s kicking game on the ground was a feast for the eyes.
But India didn’t have the best start as they lost Ishan Kishan (3) early. The left-handed flyhalf once again missed a chance, snatching a delivery from Mark Adair to Lorcan Tucker behind the stumps at third. Hooda and Samson joined hands and the duo struck effortlessly, albeit giving two tough chances, to share 176 carries on just 85 balls to lay the foundation for India’s huge tally. It was one way traffic after Kishan was fired as Hooda and Samson bowled the Irish bowlers and wouldn’t let them settle.
Except for a tough chance that Paul Stirling dropped extra in the eight over, Hooda played a perfect shot. Samson also lost his life in the ninth when leg spinner Gareth Delany dropped a tough chance to catch and knock down. Samson also played some delicious shots, especially with the back foot on his half-century shot. However, it was cleared by Adair on the 17th. Hooda raised his first century T20I with 55 balls with a single to join Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Suresh Raina in the elite club of only four Indian centurions in the format.
Once Hooda left at the team score of 212, Surya Kumar Yadav (15) and skipper Hardik Pandya (13 not out) tried to speed up the scoring but failed as India lost three wickets for the adding just 14 points in the last two overs.
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