The youngster, who has been making waves in the domestic circuit, played a timely knock in a crunch situation. He took on the likes of Sunil Narine and Jason Holder to help up the ante as SRH needed to add quick runs on the board. Speaking to iplt20.com, Hooda, who had also played a similar role in chase against Kings XI Punjab during the league phase, credited Yuvraj Singh for his guidance, and Tom Moody and mentor VVS Laxman for their inputs, which has helped him take his game a notch higher.
You have been playing vital cameos like the one you did in the Eliminator. How have you been practicing for these?
Whatever practice I had to do I had done before the IPL (started). However, here in this tournament one gets (to) face quality bowlers and also quality practice sessions. Although I have not scored as many runs as I would have liked, my confidence level is good. I am able to connect the ball well and the way the support staff is supporting me has helped me bat confidently.
What was Yuvraj Singh’s advise to you when you came in to bat today?
He told me that we will have to take the game as far as we can. We will take fewer risks initially in the first two-three overs and after that once we are set, then we will be able to hit the ball better. He handled me really well and guided me.
How much did you feel the pressure of playing in an eliminator and what were you telling yourself?
It was there at the back of the mind that we had lost to back-to-back matches and that we will (have) to win. We were looking to get around 170-180 runs. The wicket was good to bat on; it was one of best. It was a little disappointing not to have got there, but we backed each other and played as a team. We have had a good bowling attack this season and the fielders backed the bowlers well too.
What was your plan for tackling Kuldeep Yadav and Sunil Narine who have been bowling well?
They were bowling well but I have never had a problem against spin. Also I have been playing with Kuldeep for quite a few years now. I have played with him since the Under-19 days; I have played junior cricket with him. Yes, Narine is a big (stature) bowler in the limited overs format but then he is going to bowl a ball only and I have to play what he bowls. That’s it. That was what I was thinking.
How have you been preparing to face the international quality bowlers you come up against in the IPL?
The IPL is almost an international league and here you have to face all kinds of bowlers. In the domestic circuit it’s not the same kind of attack. Here in the nets you get to face quality bowlers who have also been representing their respective national teams as well. Facing these bowlers also helps build the confidence of all batsmen.
Have you had to adapt and adjust your batting for the IPL?
Not really, but your game does get polished (better) because of the practice sessions and the one-on-one talks with the coaches.
What specific tips have you received from the likes of Moody, VVS Laxman and Yuvraj Singh?
Yuvi paa helps me a lot with my cricket; he keeps telling me different things in the nets as well. And to be honest VVS sir and Tom sir (Moody) have motivated and backed me a lot. And if such big players and former players are backing you it is a big motivator to go out there and perform.