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. But despite impressive performances for both Baroda and in the IPL, the 25-year-old is yet to get his chance.
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Born in Rohtak, Haryana, Hooda's game is tailor-made for all formats. He has the explosive power that make him a threat in white ball cricket and he has showcased incredible patience and ability to rein his aggressive instincts when needed in the longest format of the game.
He 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.
Having already made his first-class debut as a teenager, he became only the second Baroda player after Snehal Parikh to score a century on first-class debut. Since then, he has played over 30 matches in the longest format and has over 2,000 runs at an average in excess of 50. In List-A cricket, his debut also came in 2014 and he averages over 42 and has a strike rate of almost 100.
Hooda's first tryst with the IPL, came when he was bought by Rajasthan Royals, the side for whom he made his IPL debut. Although he played 14 matches in his debut campaign in IPL 2015, he scored just 151 runs but they came 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 signature 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 With a stellar record in both first-class matches and List-A cricket, Hooda will be disappointed to not be on the fringes of the senior side. Strong domestic performances and a breakout IPL performance might be what the doctor order for Hooda as he looks to make his debut for India.
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.