Deepak Hooda – The Six Hitter

Deepak Hooda…. the six hitter
​The right-handed batsman was one of the three youngsters given their maiden India call-up last week​Deepak Hooda, a 22-year-old all-rounder from Haryana, has played only 31 first-class games and 27 List A games until now. The big-hitter has received his national call-up (for the T20Is against Sri Lanka) in less than three years of starting competitive cricket, which is a testament to his potentials. Jat news caught up with the latest entrant in the Indian Cricket Team for a quick chat.“I was actually expecting a call-up for ODIs but a T20 I call-up was also not too unexpected for me. This year, my performances in the Ranji Trophy were only decent, but I believe my performances from Ranji Trophy 2016-17, and the recent exploits for India ‘A’ against New Zealand, earned me my dream call-up,” Hooda, son of a Kabaddi player, told Sportskeeda. The right-handed batsman and right-arm off-break bowler was one of the three youngsters given their maiden India call-up last week, along with Kerala’s Basil Thampi and Tamil Nadu’s Washington Sundar. For Hooda’s family, it was a years-old dream that finally came true.“Someone told my father about my selection, but dad doesn’t use the internet much so he asked my younger brother to check if the news was true. That time my brother and I were returning home from Meerut, where we run our bat manufacturing company. My brother verified the news and broke it to me. We were all overjoyed. My selection in the Indian team was my family’s biggest dream,” the Rohtak-born cricketer said with euphoria.​How the journey started​Deepak Hooda was India's star performer at the 2014 U19 World Cup​Much like most successful cricketers who get drawn towards the game at an early age, Deepak was also fascinated by the bat and ball as a child.“I’ve been fascinated about cricket since I was quite small. In the Air Force camp in Gurgaon where I lived, I used to watch a bhaiyya in our locality go to practice every day and I too had an urge to accompany him there.“One day, he was playing at a park nearby and I too joined him. Main acha khel raha tha tennis ball se (I was playing well with the tennis ball) so that is when I decided that I should perhaps take cricket seriously and thereafter started accompanying bhaiyya to the academy,” Deepak recalled.For the tall and well-built Deepak, the road to the Indian Cricket Team was not a smooth one. His father, who, apart from being a Kabaddi player is also a sergeant at Indian Air Force, was posted to Gujarat when Deepak was 14-year-old. Having already adjusted himself to the cricket environment in Haryana, relocating to Gujarat and starting afresh with the Baroda team was not a smooth transition for Deepak.“I was playing state level cricket for Haryana and then suddenly I had to move to Baroda when I was around 14 years old,” Deepak recalled.“Everything in Baroda was new for me so initially it was very difficult for me to adjust myself there. I told my father that I wanted to go back to Delhi and play from there but he told me that going back North wasn’t a possibility. So I had to struggle for quite some time before making myself comfortable with the new atmosphere in Gujarat,” he added.The all-rounder was also reminiscent of the time when he was dropped from the Baroda U19 team, of which he was also the captain.“I will always remember the struggle that I went through when I was dropped from the team. I was removed from the captaincy too. That was the time when I realized that it was only my family that truly cared for me. Tab samajh aaya tha kaun real hai aur kaun nai (that was the time when I understood who was real and who wasn’t).“After being dropped I spent the next six months with my family. They supported me throughout and I would practice daily with my father and brother. They didn’t let my confidence go down and eventually, long story cut short, I made a grand comeback in the U19 World Cup,” Deepak went back in time.“Struggle can take you places. It is something that makes you grow stronger. There were some issues with my bowling action too. Some or the other problems have always cropped up but I always remember what my dad and brother told me. They have always told me that the only way to success is hard work, on which I never gave up,” the family-oriented youngster said.​The 2014 U-19 World Cup and IPLIn 2015, Rajasthan Royals bought Hooda for Rs. 40 lakhs​Deepak was India's star at the U-19 World Cup in UAE in 2014, ending the tournament as the second highest run-scorer and wicket-taker for the boys in blue. He also enjoys the distinction of scoring a century on his First Class debut that same year in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.“I was the best all-rounder in the U19 World Cup, a tournament from which I learned a lot. Unfortunately we the lost the semi-final and could not play the finals. But talking about my personal performances, I think God rewarded me that time itself because I made my List A debut even before making my Ranji Trophy debut.”In 2015, Rajasthan Royals bought Hooda for Rs. 40 lakhs, for whom he scored 151 runs in 14 matches at a strike-rate of 158.94. In the 2016 IPL auction, the pinch hitter was picked up by Sunrisers Hyderabad for an astounding Rs 4.2 crores.“I learned a lot from VVS Laxman’s mentorship at the Sunrisers Hyderabad. He trained me to be mentally strong, which is as important as physical fitness in cricket. Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) taught me how to react to various situations. I improved a lot in their company. Even a two-minute chat with them would teach me something new,” he recalled.Deepak was specifically more thankful to Yuvraj Singh, who has backed him throughout. “I like Kevin Pietersen, his aggressive mindset is something I admire. But from the past few months, Yuvi pa has helped me a lot. He is always pushing me to do better.”Nicknamed “Hurricane” for his ability to take away the game from the opposition in no time, Deepak is known for his out of the park sixes. When asked how he developed his six-hitting talent, Deepak said,“I have liked playing aggressively as a child itself. But once someone passed a comment while watching me play (while I was still young), saying he didn’t like certain things about my batting. I will not reveal the name of the person who passed the comment but instead of taking his comment negatively, I thrived on it and started playing aggressive and better cricket.”​”Not too hard to pass the yo-yo test””I can prove myself only if I get sufficient opportunities to bowl”​​Of late, the yo-yo test has become a huge hindrance for some cricketers in their ticket to the national team. But according to Deepak, who has been an agile fielder for Baroda, the fitness test is not difficult to pass if the cricketer maintains his fitness regularly.“It is not too hard to pass the yo-yo test. I recently gave and didn’t find it tough. With daily fitness regimes, it can be passed.”Although Deepak established his name as a terrific all-rounder in the U19 World Cup, his performances with the ball haven’t been proportionately as good as his performances with the bat since.“Aisa bolte hai log ki bowling pe work karo (sometimes people ask me to work on my bowling) but I can prove myself only if I get sufficient opportunities to bowl. I am not the captain so I cannot decide how many overs I can bowl. Some months ago there were issues with my bowling action too but I have cleared it.”India will be playing their third and final ODI against Sri Lanka on Sunday, after which the T20Is will follow. Deepak is eagerly looking forward to learning something from each member of the current Indian team.“There is so much to learn from every member of the team, like Virat’s hunger for runs and winning games, or Dhoni bhai’s patience and self-belief. I like how he starts the innings slowly but finishes off on a high. His self-belief is amazing.”When asked about his preferred batting position, he said, “I enjoy batting in the middle order because that’s where I have been playing for the past 2-3 years. That is a position where I can take time and .“It is not too hard to pass the yo-yo test. I recently gave and didn’t find it tough. With daily fitness regimes, it can be passed.”Although Deepak established his name as a terrific all-rounder in the U19 World Cup, his performances with the ball haven’t been proportionately as good as his performances with the bat since.“Aisa bolte hai log ki bowling pe work karo (sometimes people ask me to work on my bowling) but I can prove myself only if I get sufficient opportunities to bowl. I am not the captain so I cannot decide how many overs I can bowl. Some months ago there were issues with my bowling action too but I have cleared it.”India will be playing their third and final ODI against Sri Lanka on Sunday, after which the T20Is will follow. Deepak is eagerly looking forward to learning something from each member of the current Indian team.“There is so much to learn from every member of the team, like Virat’s hunger for runs and winning games, or Dhoni bhai’s patience and self-belief. I like how he starts the innings slowly but finishes off on a high. His self-belief is amazing.”When asked about his preferred batting position, he said, “I enjoy batting in the middle order because that’s where I have been playing for the past 2-3 years. That is a position where I can take time and slowly accelerate the runs. However, I am ready to adapt myself to any position I am given,” the Haryanvi cricketer signed off.​

(Jat News, Jat in Sports, Jaat Players)

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