By Kaushik Narayanan
It was about 12 years ago that a batsman from Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, came into the limelight after scoring an almost perfect 177, in an U-19 ODI against England. He followed it with an exceptional Ranji Season, which included a double century and a century in a single match. Anyone who watched him play then, would have expected him to attain the “veteran” status by now, with some 6000 runs in both the format of the game. But, it was not to be. It was only last year, that he made his international debut against Zimbabwe in a second string team. Now, that is Ambati Rayudu for you.
Extremely talented right from his under- 19 days, the exceptional talent he possessed earned him the tag of being the “future Tendulkar”. But, with the “big four” occupying the 3,4,5,6 spots in tests, and the likes of Yuvraj and Dhoni performing brilliantly in shorter formats, Ambati Rayudu forever remained in oblivion.
Out of frustration of lack of international opportunities, Ambati Rayudu joined the rebel ICL, which automatically disqualified any chances of him being selected for the National team. Such was the desperation from this young lad to prove himself.
After the league was disbanded, he got a surprise call-up from Mumbai Indians in the 2010 IPL season. Three years down the line, he is one of the mainstays of their middle order. In his 3-year IPL career, he has scored 1084 runs at a healthy average of 30.
His banished cricketing career has finally come back to life. Currently, he is one of the main contenders to occupy the middle order slots of No4 or No5. Having played only 5 ODIs, he has scored 138 runs at an Avg of 46 and highest of 63*, which he got in debut.
Though, he may not have many years of cricket in him, he’s looking upon as someone who can provide the stability to the Indian middle order in ODIs , which has been under the scrutiny due to the poor form of experienced players like Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina.
In his FC career, Rayudu has scored over 5000 runs at a healthy average of 51.60. He has been a consistent performer at the Ranji level. Rayudu made his debut in domestic cricket in the 2001/02 Ranji Trophy season for Hyderabad. After Feuds with HCA in 2005, he left the team to play for Andhra cricket team for one year. Later after a disappointing season, he went back to play for Hyderabad next season. He ran into trouble with the son of Shivlal Yadav, resulting in an ugly spat where Rayudu was attacked by Arjun Yadav with stumps after the latter was dismissed.
In 2010-11, Rayudu decided to play for Baroda after his former team Hyderabad got relegated to the Plate Division of Ranji Trophy. Rayudu continued to impress with the bat as he scored 566 runs in 9 matches with an average of 56.60 including a double hundred and three half-centuries.
Rayudu is an exceptionally talented player, who has been unlucky throughout his cricketing career. But, now he has the opportunity to prove his worth. He has been retained by Mumbai Indians in the IPL, and a permanent place in the national team before the 2015 world cup is up for grabs.