Ambati Rayudu was a model of calm, coolness and calculating during his match-winning innings against England at Trent Bridge.
Cricket is a team game and yesterday’s match was a fine example of how every player in the XI can contribute as India looked good in all departments and their ground fielding, especially, was outstanding.
Before this ODI started there was a slight worry in the Indian camp as Rohit Sharma was ruled out of this series due to a fractured middle finger. MS Dhoni had to make a call on who will open with Shikhar Dhawan. He decided to open with Ajinkya Rahane and picked Rayudu in place of Sharma.
Rayudu made his debut last year when India toured Zimbabwe for an ODI series. He did well in his debut match by scoring a half-century but after that didn’t get many chances because the regular players were back for the next series.
In the Asia Cup 2014 he played a determined knock of 58 against Pakistan when India were in trouble which showed that he can play according to situation.
Rayudu is not a newcomer to the cricketing world. He is now almost 29 years of age and has been playing domestic cricket for 13 years. He has plenty of experience of playing in the Ranji Trophy and the Irani Trophy.
He is different from the current bunch of Indian players who directly come and start playing for the IPL franchise. Rayudu has toiled hard in the domestic arena for quite a long time - including the now-defunct Indian Cricket League - and is now using that experience well at the top most level.
We can see that his approach towards the game is relatively simple. He likes rotating the strike and tries to build up a partnership. He also has the knack of picking gaps in the field.
Ambati Rayudu's circuitous route to international cricket
2001 - makes first-class debut for Hyderabad
2002 - makes India Under-19s debut, playing alongside Suresh Raina and Irfan Pathan
2003 - takes on captaincy of the U19s, leading Raina, Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik and Piyush Chawla
2005 - moves to Andhra
2007 - joins the Indian Cricket League, meaning he is banned from Indian cricket until 2009
2010 - joins the Mumbai Indians Indian Premier League franchise
2010 - moves to Baroda
2012 - called up to India squads in England & West Indies but not selected to play
2012/13 - top scorer in the Deodhar Trophy
2013 - scores 51 & 156* for Rest of India against Mumbai in the Irani Cup
2013 - makes ODI debut in Zimbabwe
India right now require a batsman who can play a sheet anchor role. It might be too early to say whether Rayudu fits that role or not but he has shown glimpses of what he is capable of.
In the third ODI when he came in India needed to score at around four an over. He played some excellent late cuts, flicked the ball with accurate timing and respected the good deliveries. He concentrated on his own game and never looked under pressure.
The defensive technique of Rayudu is good. He quickly gets forward or back to a ball as required. He might get tested by short rising deliveries outside the off stump but that we can only know if he gets more opportunities to prove himself.
Rayudu can also change gears if the asking rate is high. He likes lofting the ball over the 30-yard circle and being a middle-order batsman his ability to play spin is exceptional. He confidently charges the spinners and never allows them to settle in.
Rayudu has matured as a cricketer and loves playing smart cricket and he is a good fielder.
The World Cup is around the corner and there is no reason why Rayudu can't be a part of that 15-member squad. As he plays more his confidence will rise and he can surely be a player to watch out for.
India needs to make their bench strength stronger. So, it won’t be a bad idea for the team management to test a few more new players to see how good they are at the international level.
© Cricket World 2014