Rayudu may not be topping charts now but he will soon
You can't deny a talent his rightful place. Talk about Ambati Tirupathi Rayudu, his new avatar as opener for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) is the point of focus.
None would have expected this man from Guntur (Andhra Pradesh) to flourish this season and may be only his CSK skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni thought that this man is something special.
And indeed, that performing talent has also influenced the selectors too to recall him to the Indian ODI squad.
After Rayudu scored a century against the so-called best bowling line-up of IPL 2018, there is definite need to mention him as the best of the season.
You may not find him on top of IPL charts but Rayudu is very much there brushing shoulders with others.
For argument sake, it may be easy to pick Rishabh Pant as the chart topper, but this man Rayudu, who is also a wicket-keeper, is different.
As data reveals, Pant has the highest score of the season. The Delhi batsman has also hit more runs than others and also smoked more sixes and fours than others. But he never had the class of a genuine cricketer and has always lacked the maturity.
Whatever, Pant has done is a replica of street cricket, and this is where Rayudu stands out. A great thinker of the game, Rayudu has never shown blemishes during his best IPL knocks. If someone can be put on par with Rayudu and he is only Sanju Samson. Both these players fit into any format of cricket with ease.
Once Rayudu had said, his best always comes out under pressure. That was a quote from his interview two years ago when he starred for Mumbai Indians.
This season, however, he hardly has felt the pressure under Dhoni's leadership.
"I had decided on the opener's role for Rayudu even before the season had started," said Dhoni after CSK beat table-toppers Sunrisers Hyderabad at Pune.
"That was the defined role for him with Kedar Jadhav coming down the order," he mentioned.
Unfortunately, Dhoni had to use him as a floater in some of the matches after Kedar got injured and was ruled out of the season.
Very rarely have we seen Rayudu failing in 2018, may be the worst for him was getting out after making just 12 against Rajasthan Royals twice.
As CSK head coach Steven Fleming said, Rayudu has been infectious with his consistency. According to Sunrisers' skipper Kane Williamson, best part of Rayudu's batting is his simplicity.
Look who is saying that. The Sunrisers skipper himself has been the most consistent of the season with seven half-centuries to his credit.
At 33 years Rayudu has been called to represent India again and this time he wants to prove his worth.
His humility of being the man of few words was evident when he was speaking after receiving the man of the match award in Pune on Sunday.
"Happy to be selected for the Indian team and I hope to do well," was all that Rayudu said.
He may not have many years in the bank to play for the national team but his performance during the Indian team's tour of England will be crucial.
If the current form persists, Rayudu will surely be in the selection panel's purview ahead of World Cup 2019.
(The author is the former Sports Editor of Times of Oman and a freelance writer.)