Hardik Pandya made his India captaincy debut as the Baroda all-rounder walked out for toss against Ireland in the 1st T20I. And like he did for Gujarat Titans in IPL 2022, Hardik set his first foot right and called it right at the flip of the coin. He then decided to bowl first. However, the rain kept the players waiting and the play has now been reduced to 12 overs a side with the first ball set to be bowled at 11: 20 pm (IST).
With the delay due to the rain though, there were quite a few discussions taking place in the broadcast studios. The big talking point was Hardik Pandya and VVS Laxman preferring Deepak Hooda over Sanju Samson. Many questioned the tactics as Samson has had a bigger reputation and also had a decent run with the bat in IPL 2022.
However, as Ashish Nehra explained, Hooda was always the first choice for the number three slot even though Samson was selected. The former India pacer and Gujarat Titans coach explained that the management roped in Samson as Rishabh Pant’s replacement and there was never a competition between him and Hooda. Nehra also backed his statement by bringing in Hooda’s performance in Ranji Trophy and IPL.
“No, it’s not a tough call at all. Sanju Samson and Rahul Tripathi has come in place of Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant. Deepak Hooda was already in the squad and even Venkatesh Iyer didn’t play a match against South Africa. And the kind of performance, Deepak Hooda did in IPL as he is one of those players who played for Rajasthan in Ranji Trophy, the whole season he scored runs, then in the IPL also,” Nehar told Sony Liv’s pre match show ‘Extra Innings.’
Nehra further expressed happiness at management’s decision to back Hooda ahead of Samson as he was already in India’s squad for the South Africa series. “And it is good to see that he was in the squad before Samson arrived and he was backed before him. He is a sincere player and we know there are so many T20 games coming. And as we saw the squad was same in all five games against South Africa, he would hope that he is persisted with,” said Nehra.