REBEL WITH A CAUSE
Ignored yet again, Ambati Rayudu runs out of patience and draws curtains to a brief yet promising career
One of the strangest stories that will ever be recorded in the history of Indian cricket is the story of Ambati Rayudu. In 2002, he scored 175 in a U-19 game against West Indies and created a buzz among Saurav Ganguly and Co. of being a young prodigy. He was made the captain of the Indian side for the 2004 U-19 World Cup, but since then his career started to go elsewhere.
Suddenly he was in no man's land. He moved from Hyderabad to Andhra Pradesh and then to Baroda. It was only in 2010 when Mumbai Indians gave him some stability. In the buildup to the 2015 World Cup, he virtually played every game averaging more than 40. With a solid temperament he cemented his spot in the World Cup squad, but didn't feature even once in the Playing XI.
Three years later when the number four conundrum was still open, he got selected from the 2018 Asia Cup onwards. Yet again, he virtually plays every game for the build-up to the 2019 World Cup and makes prominent contributions. "The only position we were trying to figure out was number four for a long time. We tried many players who unfortunately could not capitalise or cement their places in a way we wanted. With Rayudu coming in and playing well in the Asia Cup, it's about giving him enough game time till the World Cup so that the particular slot will be sorted for us", said Kohli after the Asia Cup.
When the World Cup squad was announced, the omission of Rayadu triggered debates among the cricketing pundits. He was named as a reserve player. There was nothing else he could do better. With Shikhar Dhawan injured, India called-in Rishabh Pant. Frustrations have been part of Ambati's 19-year long journey. Not once did Rayudu received a call from the selectors explaining where he had fallen short of expectations. But when Vijay Shankar was injured, Rayudu was overlooked and Mayank Agarwal was included in the squad, despite the fact that he was among the standbys for the World Cup.
In a bizarre tweet, Iceland Cricket mocked the Indian selectors by offering Rayudu citizenship as well as a chance to play for their country. On Wednesday, his patience finally got the better of him and in a letter to BCCI he decided to hang his boots from all forms of the game. In 55 ODIs, Rayudu scored 1,694 runs with three centuries and 10 half-centuries at an average of 47.05.
Ambati Rayudu hasn't had the best of times of late. Almost a year ago, the experienced campaigner was set to be India's answer to their number four conundrum. However, times started changing for the Guntur-born cricketer and he steadily lost his place in the national team.