Team India returned to ODI action on Friday when the side took on Australia in the first match of the series in Mumbai. India registered a five-wicket win as the side bowled the visitors out for 188, and KL Rahul produced a fine performance with the bat, as he remained unbeaten on 75 off 91 deliveries to steer India to victory. The game also saw the return of Ravindra Jadeja to fifty-over format; he played his last ODI 8 months ago against England.
India’s bilateral ODI series this year will also be crucial in preparations for the World Cup, that takes place in the country in October-November later this year. The side had last won the marquee tournament under the captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni; interestingly, the victory had come on home soil in 2011 as well. India might go into the tournament without their star wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, who is nursing his injuries after a severe car crash in December last year; however, there have been positive signs with how the team is shaping up for the World Cup.
Also read: ‘Just like Kohli, KL Rahul was…but body language wasn’t same’: Gavaskar’s eagle-eyed comparison
Former India all-rounder Suresh Raina, who was part of the World Cup-winning Indian team in 2011, stated that India do miss a floater player in their lineup and believes Deepak Hooda could fill the spot. He also namedropped the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, and Yuvraj Singh, who made efficient contributions with ball as well.
“I remember, Viru pa, Yuvi pa, Sachin paaji used to bowl. Yusuf and I as well. Whenever a left-hander used to come at the crease, Mahi bhai would call me. I think Deepak Hooda could bring that factor, he can be the floater batter. He’s a terrific fielder, a good offie, and can replicate his T20 form in ODIs,” Raina told Sports Tak.
“We have (Ravindra) Jadeja and Axar (Patel), there will be spin-friendlt wickets and it would be a bit cold when the World Cup starts. There will be dew and there might not be much turn on offer. Axar, Jadeja, and Hooda will be important, and so will Hardik Pandya with his pace and variation. We saw how Viru pa and Yuvi pa used to bring impact with the ball. Yuvi pa was the X-factor, he bowled really well and that confidence also showed in his batting.
“It’s also easy for the captain when there’s a player who can give you 4-5 overs. It gives you a good balance,” Raina further said.
Hooda has played in 10 ODIs so far, scoring 153 runs. He has also picked three wickets, having bowled 25 overs in his fifty-over international career so far. Hooda hasn’t played an ODI for the side in 2023, however; his last appearance for the side in the format came in 2022 against New Zealand in Christchurch.