“He made his international debut in 2013, aged 27, after being on the fringes in many series before that and has been in and out of the side since. Now at 32, he still has a lot to offer Indian cricket and this could be the beginning of a long run in the international side for Rayudu”
With an average of over 50 in ODIs, you can basically walk into any team in the world. However, that has not been the case with a certain Ambati Rayudu, who always finds himself as a part of India’s second string team more often than not. It’s a shame, really, to see a player of his calibre not make it to the Indian squad, let alone the playing XI. However, his selection in the Asia Cup shows that the team management has not given up on the stylish right-handed batsman and this tournament could pave way for Rayudu’s long run in the Indian team.
After failing the Yo-yo test, Rayudu was dropped from the limited-overs leg in England and was replaced by Suresh Raina. It was heartbreaking to see Rayudu miss out as he had a terrific spell in the cash-rich T20 domestic league and also a good domestic performance. In the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2017-18 (List A), Rayudu scored 216 from 5 innings at 43.20, which included a couple of fifties.
With his consistent performances, Rayudu had certainly made a case for himself. Rayudu did not get dejected when he was dropped at the last moment from the England tour. “Of course, I have not yet given up hope of playing for India. The dream of playing for India very much remains. I have been working on my game,” Rayudu said in July.
With scores of 62*, 48, 11 and 66 in the India A tri-series, featuring India B and South Africa A, Rayudu showed little signs of rustiness and was ready to play in the big league once again. This time he will head to UAE to play in the 6-team Asia Cup, led by Rohit Sharma. With the likes of Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav and Dinesh Karthik providing stiff competition for a berth in the middle-order, Rayudu will have to make use of whatever chances he gets in the tournament. With the Indian selectors keeping one eye on the World Cup next year, this will perhaps be Rayudu’s best chance to make an impact.
India do have West Indies at home, followed tours of Australia and New Zealand before the World Cup. There will be many more players fighting for a place in India’s World Cup squad, but Rayudu, who was part of India’s 2015 World Cup campaign, will have to put all his experience into play and realise his dream of continuing playing for his nation.
In whatever chances Rayudu has received for India he has delivered. However, the selectors might lose patience with him if he fails in his next couple of chances as there are other younger players, who are rising up the ranks and they would not want an under-firing Rayudu blocking their place.
To be fair, Rayudu has never really been a permanent member of Team India. His place was always under scrutiny and more often than not, he was either a replacement for another player or was a part of a second string Indian team. With it becoming increasingly difficult to break into the middle-order of the talented Indian batting line-up, Rayudu’s wealth of experience will surely come in handy in tight situations and also his words of advice to some of the upcoming talents might keep them motivated.
Virat Kohli has been rested from the Asia Cup and Rohit, as a result, will lead. Both Rohit and Rayudu will will surely have a good equation, having played for the same side for years, where Rayudu played under Rohit’s captaincy. Could Rohit be the one to resurrect Rayudu’s international career?
The hunger to score runs for never in question right from the time he was 16 and slammed an unbeaten 177 for India Under-19 in England in 2002, helping his side clean sweep of the one-day series. From there on, he scored heavily in the Ranji Trophy season and for India A whenever he got a chance and kept knocking on the selectors’ doors.
He made his international debut in 2013, aged 27, after being on the fringes in many series before that and has been in and out of the side since. Now at 32, he still has a lot to offer Indian cricket and this could be the beginning of a long run in the international side for Rayudu.