The long wait is finally over for Ambati Thirupati Rayudu. The 27-year-old Hyderabad-born middle-order batsman has been selected to replace the injured Manoj Tiwary for the T20 series against England.
“It is a great relief for me. I’m thrilled to be selected,” said Rayudu, who is presently the captain of the Baroda side. Having led the India under-19 team in 2004 which had teammates like Irfan Pathan, Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik, Rayudu has been in the wilderness for quite sometime. Perhaps the best talent after VVS Laxman from Hyderabad,
Rayudu is an enigmatic cricketer. He may not be in the mould of Laxman or Mohammad Azharuddin, who have the silken touch, he plays more like his idol Sachin Tendulkar with power, grace and good timing. “I always liked his batting. He has lots of talent,” said Laxman of Rayudu.
Rayudu rose into prominence as a 14-year-old. He hammered 153 when his team was chasing 160-odd runs for victory in a inter-schools local match. It may have surprised many but not coach Vijaya Paul.
“He is an amazing talent. Watch out for him,” he said then. Today he is the happiest man. “I always believed that he would play for the country. He is one of the most attractive batsman in the country,” said Paul.
Talking to Express, Rayudu said that the recent New Zealand tour with the Indian ‘A’ team was one of the turning points of his career. “It was an important tour. I knew that if I can score runs on the seaming tracks of New Zealand, it would help my cause. I learnt to be patient and more disciplined. I played most of the innings when the team was under pressure. I felt I matured myself in that tour,” said the dashing batsman.
Rayudu, who has many ups and downs in his career, feels playing for Baroda as a professional has made him a better batsman. “Leading the side has also given me a lot of responsibility. It has actually helped my career. This season I have some good scores,” said Rayudu, who started his career with Hyderabad before shifting to Andhra. The batsman then returned to his home state and then had a stint in the rebel ICL. He played for Hyderabad on his return from ICL before shifting to Baroda three years ago.
Seeing his immense talent, Sachin Tendulkar had roped in Rayudu to play for Mumbai Indians in the IPL. Rayudu admitted IPL-3 gave him a sort of rebirth.
“I was fortunate that Sachin Tendulkar invited me to play for Mumbai Indians. My stint with Mumbai Indians, too, helped me grow as a batsman,” he said.
Rayudu feels that T20 opportunity will open the door for Test cricket.
“Any break is a good one. Surely my performances would be watched and I’m waiting to perform in the Twenty20 matches,” he said. Former international TA Sekar feels Rayudu has got the deserved break.
“He is a class player. He has a sound technique and a wonderful stroke player. I think he should also play the Test match,” he said.
For Rayudu, who has no regrets, feels that it is the right opportunity to re-launch his career. With the Indian middle order looking shaky after the exit of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, Rayudu could be the right answer.