First Century of Hooda helps India beat Ireland by 4 points to win series 2-0

Deepak Hooda hit a masterclass first century as India survived a major scare before overcoming Ireland by four runs in a second high-scoring T20 International to sweep the two-game series here on Tuesday. Hooda scored 104 from 57 balls to become just the fourth Indian to hit a T20 International ton, while Sanju Samson contributed 77 from 42 balls to propel India to a mammoth 225 for seven after going at bat. Ireland took the chase to the last with skipper Andy Balbirnie (60 of 37), Paul Stirling (40 of 18), Harry Tector (39 of 28) and George Dockrell (34 not of 16) brilliant but they have ultimately failed as India’s rookie point guard Umran Malik defended 17 points in the final. Going to bat, Hooda showed he belonged on the big stage with his scintillating hitting game, both on the front and on the back foot.

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. Hooda and Samson’s kicking game on the ground was a feast for the eyes.

Ireland made a strong start to the chase, with Stirling and Balbirnie sharing 72 runs for the opening wicket with just 34 balls. Stirling went hammer and claws of the world.

Stirling took Bhuvneshwar Kumar to task, hitting the bowler for a six-and-three boundary to pick up 18 points from the opener. Stirling then hit skipper Hardik Pandya for a six. The opening pair continued their attacking display to score Ireland’s 50 unbeaten in just four overs. Leg spinner Ravi Bishnoi broke the dangerous 72-point opening position in the sixth, cleaning up Stirling. In his next over, Bishnoi stumped Balbirnie through Ishan Kishan but it turned out to be a huge ball step. Balbirnie took the opportunity and hit every Indian bowler from every part of the pitch to keep Ireland level with the asking rate.

He was particularly harsh on young pace sensation Malik, dispatching the pacemaker’s short deliveries over the fence as Ireland raised their 100 in nine overs for the loss of two wickets. Balbirnie landed his sixth T20 International 50 on 34 balls and continued his assault for some time before being caught by Bishnoi wide of Harshal Patel. But Tector, Dockrell and Mark Adair (23 from 12 balls) kept Ireland in the hunt until the last ball the hosts needed a six to win the game and draw the series. Adair, however, could only manage one run as Malik answered his captain’s call. Earlier India didn’t have the best of starts 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 beat 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.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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