In the first game of the series in Southampton, India easily defeated England by a score of 50 runs thanks in large part to Hardik Pandya’s brilliant debut 50-run Twenty20 international half-century and four-for. Before getting disqualified, the 28-year-old was being his aggressive self and smashed six fours and one soaring six on way to 51. He took four wickets, helping England collapse in their failed run chase and declare for only 148. With his all-around performance, Hardik grabbed center stage, but Suryakumar Yadav (39) and Deepak Hooda (33) established the groundwork for an impressive total.

Hooda is excelling for the national team when Virat Kohli is out of the lineup while batting at No. 3. The right-handed hitter has four 30-plus scores, including a century, in his previous four games after hitting a 17-ball 33 on Thursday. In his 57-ball masterpiece against Ireland, he scored 104 runs at a scorching rate while hitting nine fours and six sixes. While Kohli has a different tale to tell, Hooda still excels on the grandest platform. The star batter has seemed to be a pale imitation of himself.

The 33-year-old Kohli has not scored a century since 2019, and he has been going through a protracted dry spell. In the two innings of the Edgbaston Test, he only managed to score 31. It would be interesting to watch whether India adjusts Hooda’s batting position when Kohli, who has only played two T20 games since the previous World T20, returns to the lineup.

Wasim Jaffer, a former Indian batsman, thinks Kohli would come under pressure from Hooda’s steady play since Kohli has struggled with consistency for more than two years. Kohli’s overall average in the most recent IPL was 22.73, which was the lowest mark since the 2010 campaign. Hooda, on the other side, led the Lucknow Super Giants with 451 runs at an average of 32.21.

“When Virat Kohli returns, his performance will put pressure on him. You have a player who has excelled and played well in both the T20Is and the IPL. Virat Kohli may perform at his best under pressure, according to Jaffer on ESPNCricinfo.

“You’ve got to admire how they picked up speed and batted with momentum. During the last T20 World Cup, this was consistently absent. They are taking an aggressive stance, which is extremely encouraging to see, he said.