Ambati Rayudu got a chances in the One-Day Internationals (ODI) when Team India was struggling to find a perfect number four batsman. The struggle looked more serious as the World Cup was coming close. Having tried many options like Ajinkya Rahane, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey, India couldn’t find someone with consistency. The hunt for the number four was on.
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In the meantime, Ambati Rayudu had a tremendous IPL with the Chennai Super Kings which helped them to claim back the trophy. Rayudu scored 602 runs at an average of 43.00 and a strike rate of just below 150. This helped him to earn a surprise call-up from the national team. After missing the England tour due to his failure to clear the yo-yo test, he finally returned during the Asia Cup.
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He started off with a 60 against Hong Kong, followed by a couple of not-outs and a fifty against Afghanistan which resulted in a tie. His successful stint in the Asia Cup awarded him another chance in the West Indies series.
Rayudu scored 217 runs in 4 innings in the series which included a 100 and 73*. The best of Rayudu was yet to come. He played a match-winning inning of 90 on a tricky pitch of Wellington in the New Zealand series that followed. His matured innings got praised by skipper Virat Kohli who hinted that the headache for number four is finally over. It was assumed that Ambati Rayudu could be flying to England the coming summer.
All was well until the home series against Australia. Rayudu collected just 33 runs in the three matches he played before being dropped. What more surprised was the way he got outs after getting starts. Of the 20 innings he played in 2019, he was dismissed below 25 on as many as nine occasions. Though IPL form was not a criterion to be considered for the World Cup squad, Rayudu failed in the IPL as well. He was nowhere near to his form which he showed last year with CSK and managed just a single 50+ score in 8 innings.
While Rayudu saw a sudden downfall, the rise of Vijay Shankar acted as a catalyst to his miseries. Shankar, who had a horrific Nidahas Trophy, turned the tables upside-down by playing vital knocks in the New Zealand tour. His counter-attacking strategy played well when Rayudu was building the innings on the other side of the pitch. What Shankar had was the consistency of runs. He has managed to play just 5 innings so far in his career but has scores of 45,46,32,26 and 16. His added advantage is that he can bowl medium-pace during the middle-overs and can be counted as an all-rounder.
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Fitness has also been a factor for Rayudu’s exclusion. Rayudu had previously failed to clear the Yo-yo test before the England and Ireland series and his fielding has also been on the weaker side. Together with a slip in form and a bit of misfortune cost Ambati Rayudu a place in the World Cup.