Deepak Hooda runs out of partners on 293*, climbs to top of 2016/17 Ranji Trophy run scorers list
When Munaf Patel’s hourlong vigil at the crease was brought to an end for a total of 1 run on Friday in the Ranji Trophy match between Baroda and Punjab, at the other end was Deepak Hooda, stranded on an individual score of 293*, having scored the bulk of Baroda’s total of 529 over the first two days of the match. There was a moment of acknowledgment all round the Feroze Shah Kotla Stadium of the landmark almost reached, but the truth remained that the Rohtak lad had missed out on his maiden triple ton by a tantalising margin.
Hooda’s 293* is the fourth score in the history of the Ranji Trophy to finish in the ‘nervous 290s’. There has only been one score in the 290s in Test cricket – Don Bradman’s 299* in 1931/32 against South Africa, when the last man had been run out.
The 21-year-old Hooda has been knocking on the doors of recognition for some time now, mostly through some shining cameos for Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL. The knocking has never been as loud as right now though. Playing as stand-in captain in place of Irfan Pathan, who turned 32 on Thursday, the young and belligerent Hooda made it a memorable captaincy debut.
At the moment, Hooda is the highest scorer in the 2016/17 Ranji Trophy, with 557 runs from 3 matches scored at an average of 278.5 and a strike rate of 79. Of the six centuries he has scored for Baroda in his fledgling first class career, three have come this season – one in every match this year.
Hooda piled on the runs in the pre-season KSCA Trophy in July-August, and has only taken his game up by a level in the Ranji arena. Against Gujarat in the first match, he posted 118 against a massive first innings score; against Mumbai in the second match, he scored a brisk 100* to post a second innings lead; in the third match, which he was playing as captain in place of the injured Pathan, he almost scored the first 300 of his career.
His 293* is also the second highest score ever by a Baroda batsman, after Gul Mohammad’s 319 vs Holkar in 1946/47.
Often criticised for being overhasty in his shot selection, Hooda was judicious in his shot selection against Punjab. Half of the 598 deliveries that he faced to score 293 runs were dot balls, outside off stump balls left to travel to the keeper without a bother.
For most of his innings, all nine available fielders were deployed by Punjab captain Yuvraj Singh at the fence, and so his scoring rate did take a dent. However, Punjab’s spinner Vinay Choudhary bore the brunt of Hooda’s aggressive intent, and part-timers Yuvraj Singh and Gurkeerat Singh were taken to the cleaners as well. Hooda’s innings, which was played at a strike rate of 82, consisted of 6 sixes and 25 fours.