“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.”
The chance to open proved a good opportunity for Hooda to showcase his skills, having been on the bench through the entirety of the recently concluded five-match T20I series against South Africa. Hooda top-scored for India with an unbeaten 47 off 29 balls as they romped to a seven-wicket win with 16 balls to spare.
It was too brief an appearance to draw any conclusions from, and Hardik had words of encouragement for the fast bowler.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Hardik had a generous word for Tector too, and even revealed that he’d given him one of his bats, when asked if the Ireland No. 4’s unbeaten 64 off 33 balls hinted at a future in the IPL.
“He played some fantastic shots, and obviously, he’s 22, I’ve given him a bat as well, so maybe he can score some more sixes and maybe get an IPL contract, and I wish him luck,” Hardik said. “Just look after him well, give him the right guidance. It’s not always about cricket; it’s about understanding your whole lifestyle and what is at stake. If you can manage that, I’m sure he’s going to be around – not just in IPL, in all the leagues in the world.”