Some players are just destined for greatness. But some have to work harder than most to get a chance to get in. A key performer for the India Under-19 side, many believed that Deepak Hooda was destined to play for India. He had to toil in domestic cricket for nearly eight years to make his way to the international stage and there were some instances that jeopardise the player's progress.
Hooda has stood tall against the challenges thrown at him and made a name for himself in the cricket world.
Deepak Jagbir Hooda is an Indian cricketer who plays as an all-rounder for the Indian national cricket team and the Rajasthan cricket team in domestic competitions. Hooda was born on April 19, 1995, in Rohtak city of Haryana state. Hooda plays as a right-handed batter and bowls right-arm off-break as a part-timer.
Deepak had a dream to become a cricketer at the age of 11. However, his father Jagbir Hooda, an Air Force employee and also a district-level Kabbadi player, was a bit apprehensive when his son first told him about playing cricket as his career prospect.
Deepak was good with studies and his father did not want his son to lose the big opportunities. But Deepak was adamant to follow his dreams and as a result, his father enrolled him at the Youth Friends Cricket Club in Delhi under Ravinder Paul Sharma.
Deepak liked bowling off-spin but would often jerk his arms. Sharma encouraged him to bat and keep wickets to prevent Hooda from bowling. By the time Deepak reached U-16 cricket age group, he could hit the ball very hard. Deepak started as a wicketkeeper-batter in his early days only to transform into a batting all-rounder later.
Hooda first came to prominence during his Under-19 days, where he was one of India's go-to players in 2014. The middle-order batsman could also turn his arm over and bowl some right-arm off-spin and that became an asset early in his career. Although not one to bowl a lot, he has proven that he can pick up crucial wickets as a part-time bowler.
In 2009, Deepak played for the Kendriya Vidyalaya U-17 team at the age of 14. Based on his performance in School Games Federation India, he was called to train at tge National National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. Hooda impressed with his charm at Baroda's U17 and U19 age group teams and was picked for India's U19 World Cup squad for the 2014 edition in UAE. He remained unbeaten on 76 in the semi-final against Sri Lanka U19 and won Player of the match for his stupendous innings.
Deepak started his domestic career in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy for Baroda versus Gujarat on March 19, 2013. He played just two games before making his first-class debut in 2014. Hooda became only the second player from Baroda to score a century on FC debut. Hooda made 114 against Bengal during the second innings, his innings was studded with nine fours and three sixes, to join Snehal Parikh to reach a three-figure score in his first Ranji innings.
Hooda slammed an unbeaten 293 in a Ranji Trophy Group A match against Punjab at Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi. Hooda missed the golden opportunity to score a triple century as Baroda were bowled out for 529 in the first innings and their No.4 batter was left stranded at the non-striker's end.
In the 2017-18 domestic season, Hooda replaced all-rounder Irfan Pathan as captain of Baroda in the middle of the Ranji season. All-rounder Krunal Pandya took over the captaincy reins from Hooda ahead of the 2018-19 Ranji season.
Ahead of the 2020-21 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, Hooda left the preparatory camp after alleging misbehavior and usage of abusive language by captain Krunal Pandya in front of other teammates. The Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) suspended Hooda for the complete 2020-21 season on the grounds of indiscipline and bringing disrespect to the game and the board. The action was taken for leaving the team's bio-bubble environment without informing the management.
In July 2021, Hooda revealed his decision to quit Baroda and started his new innings with Rajasthan in the 2021-22 season. Hooda was named the captain of Rajasthan for Vijay Hazare Trophy in the absence of Ashok Menaria. Hooda scored 198 runs in the 2021 Vijay Hazare Trophy and 294 runs in the 2021 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy to earn a maiden international call.
After a stellar run in domestic cricket for nearly eight years, Hooda got his well-deserved chance to wear the national shirt as he was called up for the ODI series against West Indies in February 2022. Hooda played the first two games with scores of 26 not out and 29. He was dropped in the final ODI match.
Hooda was not included in the ODI series against England in July 2022 but in the same month returned to the squad for three ODIs against West Indies. He scored 27 and 33 in the first two games batting at No.6. He did not bat in the third ODI. In the ODI series against Zimbabwe in August, Hooda batted at No.5 but could add scores of 25 and 1.
Hooda played in New Zealand just after the T20 World Cup. He didn't get the opportunity to bat in Hamilton and could add only 12 runs in the final match in Christchurch.
Hooda was shortly drafted into the T20I squad for the Sri Lanka series days after his international debut in the ODI format. Hooda played all three matches against the Dasun Shanaka-led side but got the opportunity to bat in his debut innings in the last game in Dharamshala where he made 21 in 16 balls.
After a great IPL season with Lucknow Super Giants, Hooda was named in the inexperienced T20I squad for the two matches in Ireland. He remained not out on 47 in the first match and notched a sensational century in the second T20I.
Hooda scored 33 in 17 balls against England in the first match in Southampton. The Rajasthan player had to make way for Virat Kohli in the last two games. Hooda played three of five games in the West Indies and amassed 69 at 34.50 and a strike rate of 135.29.
He played in all three games of the Super 4 round in Asia Cup. He could manage just 16 in 14 balls versus Pakistan and three runs in four deliveries in the next game versus Sri Lanka. Despite decent performances in his last few T20I innings, Hooda was named in India's T20 World Cup 2022 squad in Australia.
Hooda suffered a back injury during the home T20Is against Australia and was ruled out. He missed the three-match T20I series against South Africa as well. The all-rounder recovered for the T20 World Cup but got to play just one game against South Africa in Perth, where he was dismissed for a three-ball duck by Anrich Nortje.
In the second T20I against New Zealand in Christchurch, Hooda recorded his best T20I bowling figures of 4/10 as India defeated the Black Caps by 26 runs and eventually won the series 1-0 as the other two games were spoiled by the rain showers.
Hooda smashed 41 off 23 balls against Sri Lanka in the first T20I game of 2023 at the Wankhede Stadium. India eventually won the match by two runs in a thrilling manner.
Hooda's first tryst in the IPL was with Rajasthan Royals and made his debut versus Kings XI Punjab on April 10, 2015. Although he played 14 matches in his first IPl season 2015, he could only score 151 runs at a strike rate of almost 160. He scored the fastest half-century (22 balls) for Rajasthan Royals in 2015.
Impressive performances in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and his potential as a big-hitter in the middle-order meant that Sunrisers Hyderabad went all out to secure his services ahead of IPL 2016.
The middle-order batsman, who was nicknamed "Hurricane" for his ability to change games in a flash, had a base price of just 10 lakhs. But Sunrisers Hyderabad bought for 42 times his base price. In the three years since then, he has failed to live up to the faith shown in him by SRH.
Despite playing 61 IPL matches, he is yet to score 1000 runs in the tournament and averages 14.55 and has a strike rate of 127.18. The fact that he is often played at No.6 or lower hasn't helped his cause either but he has done little to suggest that he should be promoted up the order either. In the 2020 IPL auction, he was bought by the Kings XI Punjab ahead of the 2020 Indian Premier League season.
Punjab Kings (the new name of the franchise) released Hooda ahead of IPL 2022 mega auction. Lucknow Super Giants purchased Hooda for INR 5.75 crores in IPL 2022 auction. He aggregated 451 runs in 15 games at 32.31 and a strike rate of 136.61.
Hooda belongs to Haryana, but he played his first-class cricket for Baroda. In Baroda, he played along with Hardik Pandya. He considers Kevin Pietersen as his inspiration. His brother, Ashish also used to play cricket but he got a shoulder injury after which he had to stop bowling. For his all-round performance in the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2014-15, he won the Lala Amarnath Award.