“Ambati Rayudu might have played just the kind of knock that is necessary for these kinds of situations but his role at No.4 may not be suitable for other instances, especially, in occasions which demand acceleration from the word go”
“We believe he is the right person to capitalize on that spot. He is experienced and has won many games for his state and also in the IPL. He has a great ODI record already for India. I think the batting order is sorted.”
This is what Virat Kohli had said, after the first ODI, on why they think Ambati Rayudu is the right candidate to bat at No.4. According to him, their batting issues get pretty much sorted out with his presence at that position.
Rayudu also repaid his skipper’s faith with a gritty knock of 73 runs, in the second ODI, after walking out to bat at No.4. India were in trouble at that time, being on a score of 40/2.
He started off cautiously and then went on accelerating in the latter part of his 80-ball innings. He might have played just the kind of knock that is necessary for this kind of situations but Rayudu’s role at No.4 may not be suitable for other instances, especially, in occasions which demand acceleration from the word go.
Rayudu might have owned the 2018 season of the IPL. Batting mostly at No.3 and 4, he scored 602 runs during the season at an average of 43.00. But T20s are a completely different proposition as the ball remains mostly new and doesn’t undergo much change throughout the innings. Moreover, he came out to bat within the first six overs, when majority of fielders are inside the circle, on a lot of occasions. It further helped him to score runs freely.
But it would not be easy for him to replicate the same kind of form, batting at No.4 in ODIs. The situation in the second ODI against the West Indies was tailor-made for him. He walked out to bat within the first 10 overs of the innings and also got time to build his innings and settle down. It was only then that he started accelerating. However, he won’t get the same luxury in situations where the openers have set up a good platform and the team requires him to go berserk in the second half of the innings.
Unlike T20s, the ball is quite old in these kinds of situations in ODIs, and so it is not that easy to get the spinners away. Moreover, the fielders are stationed mostly at the boundaries which put the batsmen at risk of getting dismissed, if they don’t hit the proper gaps. Statistics suggest that he is a bit like MS Dhoni in these kinds of situations as both of them struggle to get going.
Rayudu’s career average of 50.96 in 42 matches, with 1325 runs to his name, might seem impressive. However, a strike-rate of 77.62 isn’t acceptable at all in terms of modern standards of limited-overs batting.
Overall career strike rate might not be a good parameter to judge a player’s potential at a particular position. So let’s delve into his numbers at positions which are thought to be suitable for him.
Rayudu, so far, has played a total number of 16 and 12 innings at No.3 and 4 respectively. He has 687 and 381 runs to his name at impressive averages of 68.70 and 47.62 respectively. However, his strike-rates at those two positions read 76.41 and a further worse of 72.84 at No.4 respectively.
So these numbers suggest how his rate of run-scoring in the middle order isn’t as good as it should be.
Both centuries of his career, thus far, came while batting at No.3. Both came when a wicket had fallen early, which means he got time to build his innings. So he accelerated after settling down propeply, and that sums up his good strike-rates of 102.54 and 93.23 on those two occasions. Two of the three fifties he has scored at this position have even come at good strike rates of 85.50 and 85.71 respectively.
However, if we look at the rest of the innings with scores of below fifty, we will see that he has scored at an overall strike-rate 68.86. So that sums up how slow he is at the start of his innings and how he lets the opposition to get away with the advantage in such situations. He wastes a lot of deliveries when he walks out to bat in the middle overs.
His statistics at No.4 will further strengthen this theory. As mentioned before, not only his strike rate, even his average suffers a huge dip at this position as compared to those at No.3. His four fifties at this position, which have mostly required him to rebuild and then accelerate, have a come at a good strike-rate of 82.41. However, the strike-rate in rest of his 8 innings at this position reads a further worse of 59.25 as compared to that of 68.86 at No.3.
So that sums up how Rayudu consumes a good number of deliveries in order to get going in the middle overs. That isn’t helpful at all for India and in turn helps the opposition to gain momentum in the game. India have already one such liability in MS Dhoni and they wouldn’t want another in all probability. India needs to realize this fact sooner rather than later.