Saba Karim says Deepak Hooda 'biggest match-winner' for India

Former India wicketkeeper Saba Karim has said Deepak Hooda is a great addition to Team India in white-ball cricket.

Hooda showed in the current ODI series against West Indies that he could bat in the top six while also bowling a few overs with impressive control.

"For me, Deepak Hooda is currently the biggest match-winner in the Indian white-ball team. He is turning out to be an incredible addition to the team and believes that he can contribute as an all-rounder. He is bowling with same confidence as he did in the IPL and is keen on getting better," Karim said during an interview with India News.

Hooda is one of the most consistent players on Team India. He delivered an excellent performance in the second T20I against Ireland. He became the fourth Indian batter in history to surpass the 100-run mark in the shortest format of cricket. In doing so, he joined the ranks of elites such as Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, and Suresh Raina.

During the match against West Indies, Hooda claimed 1/42 in 9, which included the wicket of opener Kyle Mayers. He scored 33 off 36 balls and put on 51 runs for the fifth wicket with Axar Patel, who hit a match-winning 64 not out off 35 balls.

As a batsman, Hooda has scored 205 runs in six games, which includes a century and a strike rate of 172.26.

Karim is not the only one who thinks highly of Hooda. Former Indian all-rounder Irfan Pathan said Hooda could go a long way in his career.

“Two years ago, Hooda himself wondered if the India cap would come. Today, he is a shining example of someone who has proved if you accept your shortcomings and make a conscious effort in working on them, that’s half the battle won,” Pathan told ESPNcricinfo.

Praising other players

Karim said he had been impressed with how Team India players improved their overall capabilities. He insisted Ravindra Jadeja, Patel, Deepak Chahar, and Jasprit Bumrah had been working hard on their batting skills.

"Bowling all-rounders like Jadeja, Axar Patel and Deepak Chahar have worked on their batting. So players have started to realize that to make their place in the Indian team, they need to add more to their repertoire. Specialist bowlers like Bumrah have also worked hard on their batting," Karim said.

Karim also said Rishabh Pant would be a big player for India in all formats, considering his performance statistics. He warned all players should focus on giving their best instead of thinking about becoming the captain.

"Pant is a special player and has match-winning abilities. I believe that he can emerge as a big player for India in all three formats. Looking at his performances overseas, we can say that he is a possible candidate for the next captain. But I think every player should focus on giving match-winning performances and not on getting the captain's hat," Karim said during an interview with Jagran TV.

While Pant has established himself as one of the most important players in the red-ball team for India, he has not accumulated enough success in the white-ball format. Pant did not get the chance to bat in the first ODI against England. In the second match, he was dismissed for a five-ball duck.

Gian Chacko

Sports enthusiast with love for cricket, football and sports in general. Holds 10+ years of following and writing about sports and lately also betting.