A dependable batsman who is technically strong, performs consistently in domestic cricket, IPL, has a fantastic ODI record, can bat anywhere in the middle-order, keep wickets and even roll his arm if needed. Any player who fulfills the above mentioned profile should be a regular in the international side but not if his name is Ambati Rayudu.
While the entire nation was glued to its TV sets during the first warm-up match between India A and England to watch captain cool Mahendra Singh Dhoni lead the side for possibly the last time, least did they know they were up for a Rayudu special. The Hyderabad batman walked in to bat when the scoreboard read 25/1 and the ball was moving in the air. He saw through the tough time and raced his way to a superb hundred before retiring to give other batmen a chance.
When the squad for the warm up games were announced a lot of fingers were raised on Rayudu’s selection since he couldn’t feature in this year Ranji Trophy due to an injury but the Mumbai Indians’ batsman answered his critics in style. However, what next for Ambati Rayudu? He isn’t the part of ODI or T20 squad to play England. This series will be followed by five Test matches against Australia and he isn’t the part of team India’s Test plans.
So, once again Ambati Rayudu will be sent back to the wilderness of cricketing circles to be recalled only if a star player gets injured or the selectors decide to field a second string side and that’s a shame! But, strangely this has been the story of Rayudu’s career so far. Having made his first-class debut in 2002 at the age of 16-years, Rayudu has represented India in just 34 ODIs.
Its not like he has failed to deliver at the highest level. Rayudu averages 50.23 in 30 innings including 2 centuries and 6 half-centuries. His last two ODI scores read 41 and 62 and in both the innings he carried his bat. Yet, the selectors didn’t consider him worthy of another chance at the international level.
At times Rayudu reminds me of Subramaniam Badrinath, another player of similar mould who self-lessly served his domestic and IPL sides batting at virtually every position boasting an impressive recorded but managed to play just 10 international games across all formats. At 36 years, Badrinath may not sport a blue jersey ever again but at 31, Rayudu does have few years of international cricket left in him. The onus is on the selectors to ensure that a promising career does not die a premature death.