Pietersen an inspiration for me: Deepak Hooda

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Mumbai, May 6 (IANS) Rajasthan Royals batsman Deepak Hooda, who came into the limelight after his match-winning knock against Delhi Daredevils in an Indian Premier League (IPL) encounter, said exiled England batter Kevin Pietersen inspires him to play attacking cricket.

“Kevin Pietersen is my inspiration when it comes to batting because he also is an attacking batsman and loves to play big shots. My role in the team is also to play big shots and score quickly whenever the situation arises like I have done in a few games this season. I also practise my big shots in the nets,” Hooda said here on Wednesday.

The 20-year-old walked in to bat at No.6 against Daredevils on April 12 and smashed 54 off 25 balls, which included three fours and four sixes. His knock helped Royals register a three-wicket win.

“Before the start of the IPL, I was practising in the nets on how to bat, both up and down the order and in different situations. So I was mentally prepared on how to bat in different positions and that is what helped me. The Rajasthan Royals management and coaches have also backed me fully and have encouraged me to play freely and express myself out in the middle which has further boosted my confidence,” the right-hander said.

The youngster, who plays his first-class cricket for Baroda, credited team mentor Rahul Dravid for constant support and motivation.

“You learn a lot from someone like Rahul Dravid. I have spoken to him on things like how to bat in certain situations, how to handle pressure situations and lot of other things related to my batting. I always love to go upto him and have a chat about batting. I also discuss a lot with Paddy Upton. They also come up to me at times and give me tips about batting,” Hooda said.

In 2014 he didn’t get to play for Royals despite being in the squad. However, the Rohtak-born is aiming to make the most of the opportunity this season.

“Last season I didn’t get to play a single match but I used to speak to the coaches and support staff on how to develop my game. But since last season, I was mentally prepared and was waiting for the opportunity that would come my way. This season when I finally got the chance I was very happy and looked to make most of the opportunity,” the 20-year-old said.

Hooda also praised Royals skipper Shane Watson and teammate Steven Smith for being by his side and motivating him in both good and tough times.

“Captain Shane Watson constantly inspires me and tells me to keep playing my shots. Even when I am not doing well, the captain and coaches come and motivate me so I am loving being part of the Rajasthan Royals where I am learning a lot,” he said.

“In the last two matches I didn’t do well and I went up to Steven Smith and discussed the same. Smith was very helpful and explained why I failed to deliver in those games which should help me in future matches.”

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