Vastly experienced by IPL standards, Rajasthan’s Deepak Hooda, and debutant Ayush Badoni of Delhi, joined hands when Lucknow Super Giants were precariously placed at 29 for four in the fifth over against Gujarat Titans in the first clash of IPL two newest teams on Monday.
Hooda and Badoni shared 87 for the fifth wicket off 68 deliveries to take LSG to 158 for six and give their team a semblance of a contest. But for this partnership, the match would have been a one-sided contest. Their stand, the highest of the match, was not enough as GT's two fifty-plus stands, Hardik Pandya-Mathew Wade for third (57) and David Miller-Rahul Tewatia for the fifth (60) saw GT home by five wickets.
India’s top bowler Mohammed Shami and discarded pacer Varun Aaron took three wickets and one wicket, respectively, all the four scalps – KL Rahul, Quinton de Kock, Evin Lewis and Manish Pandey – being match-winners in their own right.
Unperturbed by the tight situation that they found themselves in, Hooda took up the responsibility as a senior batsman and guided Badoni like an elder brother. Hooda, who made his international debut in both the ODI and T20I formats against the West Indies and Sri Lanka last month, assessed the situation before settling down to play some neat, powerful shots. He played a knock that was similar to Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the season opener.
Before Monday, Badoni’s experience at the senior level was restricted to only one Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy innings for Delhi in the 2020-21 season. He appeared in five matches, all in Mumbai, but batted in only one, scoring just eight against Puducherry at the Bandra-Kurla Complex ground in Mumbai’s distant suburb.
The 22-year-old Badoni, who was bought by LSG at the base price of ₹20 lakh in the auctions last month, however, made a significant impact on the India under-19 tour of Sri Lanka in mid-2018. In the ‘Test’ at the Nondescripts Cricket Club ground in Colombo0000, he scored an unbeaten 185 batting at number seven. Though, in the other innings on that tour including the Youth ODIs, Badoni hardly made another sizeable score.
On his first big stage, Badoni did not show any signs of nervousness. He grew in confidence as Hooda began playing his shots at around the halfway stage with impressive cuts, pulls and drives against Gujarat Titans’ captain and medium-pacer Hardik Pandya and Aaron.
Hooda’s pulled six off Aaron into the first tier of the Garware Pavilion inspired Badoni to also open up and play his shots. Badoni’s first boundary hit came in the 15th over, a pull over wide long-on for six off Hardik Pandya. In the next over, he slog swept the premier leg-spinner in the world, Rashid Khan, over mid-wicket for another six while his third maximum hit, off New Zealand quick Lockie Ferguson over mid-wicket, took him to 50 off only 38 deliveries.