Everything worked well for Hardik Pandya on his India captaincy debut on Sunday against Ireland in the first T20 as he led the Men in Blue to a fighting seven-wicket win besides also setting a new record for himself in Dublin.
Leading the side in the absence of regular captain Rohit Sharma, who is down with COVID-19 and also busy with his commitments against England, Hardik led from the front contributing with both bat and ball on Sunday. The Baroda all-rounder also became the eighth player to lead India in T20s.
Opting to bowl first, India had a dream start, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar removing opposition captain Andre Balbirnie in the fifth ball of the match.
Coming into the attack in the second over, Hardik Pandya dismissed Ireland opener Paul Stirling to become the first Indian men’s captain to take a wicket in the shortest format of the game. Hardik started with a wide before being hit for a boundary over cover-point.
Hardik bowls a slightly fuller delivery in the next and Stirling couldn’t time the ball well hitting straight at the hands of Deepak Hooda at mid-off. “Great to start a series with a win. For us as a team it's very important to start with a win. Quite happy with it,” Hardik said after the match.
Earlier, the match was reduced to 12 overs-a-side after the start was delayed by heavy rains. However, India failed to capitalize on the brilliant start as Harry Tector’s 33-ball 64 that included six fours and three sixes took Ireland to 108/4 in 12 overs.
Needing just over nine runs per over, India started with a bang as Ishan Kishan hit Joshu Little for two fours and six in the first over itself. The Mumbai Indians opener however fell for 11-ball 26 in the third over.
Deepak Hooda, who was sent in place of designated opener Ruturaj Gaikwad, scored the bulk of the runs as the right-hander saw India through with a 26-ball unbeaten 47. His innings was studded with sox fours and two sixes. Hardik too contributed with 24 from 12 balls as India reached the target in 9.2 overs.
India also handed a much-awaited debut to pace sensation Umran Malik. The Jammu and Kashmir pacer conceded 14 runs in the only over he bowled. Speaking about the Sunrisers Hyderabad pacers, Hardik felt the youngster will he more comfortable with the old ball.
“He's (Umran Malik) been fantastic for his franchise (Sunrisers Hyderabad). But I felt, also had a chat with him, he'll be more comfortable with the older ball,” Hardik added. India play the second T20 against Ireland on Tuesday at the same venue.