India skipper Hardik Pandya revealed that he didn’t want to risk sending out Ruturaj Gaikwad to open the innings in the first T20 against Ireland as he picked up a calf niggle in the first half of the game.
India chased down a 109-run target with relative ease in the rain-curtailed T20 against hosts Ireland on Sunday night.
But at the halfway stage instead of regular opener Gaikwad, Deepak Hooda walked out to open the innings alongside Ishan Kishan.
“Rutu had a niggle in his calf,” Pandya said at the post-match press conference.
“We had the choice 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.”
Hooda, who was playing his fourth T20I for India, ended up top-scoring for the visitors as he remained unbeaten on 47 off 29.
“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 big headache. We wanted to make sure we weren’t taking any chances with Rutu.”
‘Important to give such a talent some time’
Pace sensation Umran Malik was handed a much-anticipated debut after spending time on the bench in the home series against South Africa earlier this month.
However, the 22-year-old just bowled one over in which he gave away 14 runs, including a four and six.
“Umran was kept back after I had a chat with him, he’s more comfortable with the older ball and they batted fantastically. So, hope he gets an opportunity.
“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.
Malik was named in the Indian squad after a breakthrough IPL season with the Sunrisers Hyderbad.
“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,” Pandya added.
Ultimate goal is to get better for World Cup
With the T20 World Cup slated to be played in Australia later this year, Pandya said the idea is to give all players in contention of making the squad some game time.
“Our ultimate goal is to get better for the World Cup. This is good step we have taken that intentionally the players are showing the kind of attitude and the character that will help us during crunch games at the World Cup.
“You get experience by playing and that is a conscious effort by the management to get the players they are considering in the squad or scheme of things and give them the best opportunity to get some games under their belt rather than coming into the World Cup and play their first game.
“We want people to settle in and by the time the World Cup comes we will have a tighter squad,” Pandya added.
Hardik gifts bat to Harry Tector
Young Harry Hector showcased his batting prowess, playing a brilliant counter-attacking 64 not out, lifting the hosts to a respectable total.
The Indian skipper, who was left in “awe” of the youngster, gifted him his bat and hoped the 22-year-old can get an IPL contract soon.
“He played some fantastic shots and obviously he’s just 22 and I have given him a bat and maybe he can score some more sixes and get an IPL contract.
“I wish him luck and, you know, just look after him. Well, give him the right guidance. It’s not always about cricket. It’s about understanding your own lifestyle and understanding what is at stake.”
Tector displayed a lot of composure as he smashed six fours and three maximums in his 33-ball innings.
“If you can manage that, I’m sure he’s going to be around not just in the IPL, but in all the leagues in the world.”
“Some of the shots Harry played had me in awe. Look forward to him developing and taking Irish cricket forward.”