Express pace was the reason India skipper Hardik Pandya asked Umran Malik to bowl the final over of the second T20 International against Ireland.
Ireland took the chase of 226 to the last over but fell short by four runs as Umran defended 17 runs in the last over on Tuesday.
“Not worried, to be honest. Wanted to keep pressure out of my equation, wanted to be in the present. I backed Umran since he has pace. With his pace, it’s difficult for people to hit,” Hardik said, explaining the rationale behind giving Umran the crucial final over.
Deepak Hooda hit a blistering maiden century as India survived a scare before prevailing over their less fancied opponents in a nail-biting finish.
“I think we’ve come to play a game of cricket, so Ireland was going to show us what they have. Credit to them. They played amazing shots. At the same point in time, credit to our bowlers for crossing the line.
“The crowd was amazing. Their favourite boys were Dinesh and Sanju. Great to see them enjoy them. Good for us to experience cricket in this part of the world too. Grateful to the fans,” Hardik said to loud cheers.
Regarding the team’s new faces, the skipper said, “Proud. As a child, it was everyone’s dream to play for the country. At the same point in time, leading and getting the first victory and now first series win is special. Also happy for Hooda as well, the way he batted. And Umran.”
Set an imposing target, Ireland showed a lot of heart and nearly pulled off what would have been a memorable victory.
“We are all pretty good. We did a lot of good stuff with the bat. We wanted to express ourselves, and we did that. Bitterly disappointed, a bitter pill to swallow,” Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie said after the match.
“We wanted to make use of the powerplay, and Paul (Stirling) did that brilliantly. He set the tone, and I took some time. Our T20 cricket has been up and down. That sort of game is something that we want to do. We’ve gone toe to toe against a very good team. We can’t let this be a flash in the pan.”