Coming into prominence after his match-winning rearguard action against Delhi Daredevils, 19-year-old all-rounder Deepak Hooda credited Rajasthan Royals and mentor Rahul Dravid for his success.
Walking into bat at No.6, the Baroda boy scored scintillating 25-ball 54 to help Royals chase down the 185-run target and register their second consecutive win of the season.
“Rajasthan Royals have played a part in it. They trusted me and I am just happy to repay their trust. Grateful to God that he helped me all along. Rahul Dravid always tells me that take the game to the end, believe in your ability and you will do it,” Hooda said in the post-match conference.
Hooda struck 3 fours and 4 sixes before falling to Imran Tahir, who bagged 4 wickets to give Royals a scare but Tim Southee and Chris Morris made sure that the team doesn’t falter.
Hooda said that partnerships were key.
“We were just looking for a partnership and we got that. We had the belief in us and we made it happen,” he said.
“I was a little nervous at the start. I just picked up singles and twos. I was sighting the ball well. Automatically my hand was working on the bat. I got set and then got going,” he added.
From his state side, to the India Under-19 in the 2014 World Cup and now the IPL, Hooda has made his presence felt and the youngster credited the people who made the journey possible.
“I play for Baroda. Have played T20s regularly for them. There is a bit of a difference between Under-19 and IPL but I have been lucky to get people all along my journey who have guided me the right way. Last season I was with RR and I learnt a lot. I did not play many matches but learnt how to absorb pressure.”
“I was also 12th man in the last three matches and that also added to my ability. So I was mentally equipped to handle this kind of pressure. I have to be ready to take pressure at my batting position,” he said.
An off-spinner to start with, Hooda hasn’t forgotten his role of an all-rounder in the side and insisted that he continuously bowls in the nets, “Remember I have to play a bowlers part more. I have a short-term role as a batsman. So I concentrate on my bowling a lot. I bowl regularly in the nets.
I know I am an all-rounder and I have to deliver as one,” he said.
Hooda and Ajinkya Rahane shared a crucial 52-run fifth-wicket partnership to make things look possible for the visitors. The youngster enjoyed his stay with Ajinkya in the middle.
“I went with a clear mind. Enjoyed my off day and Rahane bhai just told me to build a partnership, rotate the strike and I did just that. When he was walking back he told me that ‘you are a good player, you can do it’,” he said.