Following his side's narrow two-run win over Sri Lanka in the first T20I, Indian all-rounder Deepak Hooda said that he and Axar were clear that they had to build a partnership after a collapse and added that there was not much dew in the first innings.
Debutant Shivam Mavi's four-wicket haul and Axar Patel's thrilling spell in the last over guided India to a 2-run win over Sri Lanka in the first T20I of the three-match series here at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday.
"We (Hooda and Axar) were clear that we needed to go for a partnership in case wickets fell early. When you bat at number six, you have to stay prepared for such situations. Collapse can happen anytime. We were in a good position, it was just one or two more wickets had fallen," said Hooda after the match in a press conference.
On hitting spinner Maheesh Theekshana for two sixes in the 16th over, Hooda said that though the plan was not to hit strongly initially, it was Theekshana's last over and he delivered a loose ball.
"You have to keep your intent high and hit the ball when it is in your area. It was the perfect time for me and Axar to target him. We were able to execute it well," he added.
Hooda said that change in batting position does make a difference in one's mindset but his team has a clear role for him, which helps him.
The all-rounder admitted that there was not much dew in the first innings, in contrast with Wankhede Stadium's usual conditions which offer a lot of dew.
"The wicket was slow. We finished well. And that is what the game demands, play according to the wicket and give the team a strong total as a finisher," he added.
Put to bat first by Sri Lanka, India posted 162/5 in their 20 overs. Though Men in Blue started well in the first two overs, Lankan spinners helped the visitors make a comeback, reducing India to 94/5. Ishan Kishan, who scored 37 off 29 balls, was the only one who could shine in the top order. Debutant Shubman Gill (7) and Suryakumar Yadav (7) disappointed with the bat. Captain Hardik Pandya scored a fighting 29 off 27 balls.
But a quickfire sixth wicket stand between Deepak Hooda (41* off 23 balls) and Axar Patel (31* off 20 balls) helped India reach a competitive total.
Maheesh Theekshana and Wanindu Hasanranga were highly impressive and they managed to stop India's run flow, taking a wicket each. Dilshan Madhushanka, Chamika Karunaratne and Dhanajaya de Silva also took a scalp each.
Sri Lanka lost quick wickets and was reduced to 68/5, but knocks from skipper Dasun Shanaka (45 off 27 balls), Kusal Mendis (28 off 25 balls), Wanindu Hasaranga (21 off 10 balls) and Chamika Karunaratne (23* off 16 balls) always kept them in contention. But Men in Blue held their nerves to successfully defend 13 runs in the last over and win the match by two runs.
Shivam Mavi was the star for India on his international debut, taking 4/22. Umran Malik (2/27) and Harshal Patel (2/41) also delivered timely breakthroughs to India.
Hooda's knock made him the 'Man of the Match'.
India has a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Brief scores: India 162/5 in 20 overs (Deepak Hooda 41*, Ishan Kishan 37; Dhananjaya de Silva 1/6) vs Sri Lanka 160 (Dasun Shanaka 45, Kusal Mendis 28; Shivam Mavi 4-22).