The revival of Ambati Rayudu

Cricket May 11, 2018
CSK, Chennai Super Kings, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, Cricket, Team Chennai, Ranji Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy, Deodhar Trophy

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The revival of Ambati Rayudu

The game was Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Chennai Super Kings and yet again it was some fascinating bowling display by the bravehearts from Hyderbad.  CSK had tinkered with their batting lineup by sending Faf Du Plessis ahead of inform Rayudu to open the innings and it was Billy Stanlake of SRH who made sure CSK doesn’t get off to a flier and they were restricted for 32/2 in 7.1 overs which is a very below par score. In walked man of the moment, local boy Ambati Rayudu and tonked 79 runs of 37 balls which included 9 fours and 4 stellar Sixes at a strike rate of over 210. As Gautam Bhimani mentioned in the cricbuzz show

“ There are players in every franchise when tossed with a difficult scenario, raise their hand and say “I do” but for CSK this season has been “Rayudu”.

There is no denying that Ambati Rayudu was a special talent. He had been fast tracked to domestic circuit and was always labeled as a special player. From Hyderabad, someone who has sound knowledge of the game and can adapt quickly to circumstances was notable feature of this prodigal young boy. But somehow he always fell into the category of “potential not fully utilized” as well. Mumbai Indians in IPL benefitted from his sound cricketing brain as he was consistent for them and had played some terrific innings but he lacked continuity to maintain that. When you are so blessed with talent and you still can’t make it to the Indian Team not because you are not good enough its just you are playing in an era where some really special cricketers are playing ahead of you. With this frustration, Rayudu was on the path of self destruction in multiple ways,copping bans and fines long before match referees became the norm, switched teams, turned his back on the establishment and played in the “rebel” Indian Cricket League, and just before all was lost returned to the fold. Since switching to Yellow of Chennai, it seems a new Rayudu has taken Centre Stage. Under MSD, Rayudu is enjoying a revival of sorts as MSD who always believes in giving players their space and Rayudu seems to be thriving. Be it opening the batting or playing the role of a floater it seems AmbatiRayudu can’t put a foot wrong.  What has triggered this change all of a sudden? 

Being Adaptable

Shubman Gill, the u19 prodigy in an interview with Dinesh Karthik said the key thing which Rahul Dravid taught to them in U19 day was to be ready for any situation and be adaptable and deal with the situation calmly and Ambati Rayudu’s career has been of that mould. Ambati Rayudu this season has been showing adaptability of the highest order. He has been brilliant when he has opened the innings for CSK with Shane Watson or coming at no.4 to give much needed Impetus in the middle overs. He is MSD’s perfect go to man in any situation. When FAF Du Plessis has played as an opener, he has dropped in the middle order to asses the innings and then provide the impetus and if Sam Billings was drafted in then he has moved up the order to take opposition attack to them. His adaptability has been one of the major reasons why CSK are second in the points table.

Setting the Pace

During Mumbai Indian’s days his job was to go hammer and tongs right from ball one since he is a very versatile cricketer and has all the shots in the book to play against spin and pace. Without being set, he has the ability to hit the first ball for a four which is the need of the hour in a format like T20. In previous seasons of MI, one of his reasons was downfall was he used to try extra ordinary things when not required that’s probably because of the lack of time or available overs to achieve a target but this season has seen an overhaul of kinds for Rayudu. Even after getting wonderful starts, Rayudu is not throwing his wicket away, he is looking to consolidate more and trying to contribute as a match winning innings rather than a swashbuckling innings. Yes, he is an run out candidate but its probably the impatience of a man who wants to face every ball asap to get the victory for this team. In 10 innings, he has scored 423 runs with an average of 42 and puts him a strong candidate for the orange cap. In this year’s IPL for top 10 run getters, as of now he is placed at 3rd position just behind SuryaKumar Yadav and KL Rahul but interesting aspect is the highest number of sixes out of top 10 run getters this year belongs to MSD at 27 sixes and Rayudu is next at 22 followed by Watson and ShreyasIyer at 21 this clearly proves his ability to clear the rope with ease.

Picking the right bowler

Over the years, MSD has redefined the term “finishing” in cricket folklore. One of his biggest and key feature was to target the right bowler and make him bowl where he wants and then finish the game in style. Rayudu seems to have learnt this from his skipper and practical application if not is definitely at par with MSD’s brains. His 53 ball 82 against RCB was a perfect example to show this. Umesh Yadav was breathing fire and Virat Kohli in search of one wicket bowled the entire quota of his speedster, Rayudu parked his ego aside and respected the bowler. Once he was done, it was all Rayudu Show. Chinnaswamy may be a small ground but RCB had CSK on the floor with a target of 206 after ABD’s blitzkrieg of 68 from 30 balls demoralized the CSK unit. CSK needed to start well but by 9th over Watson, Raina, Billings and Jadeja were back in the dugout.  Rayudu decided to play a responsible innings with his skipper and was dismissed in the 18th over with score at 175 and with 30 needed of 12, MSD gave a master class on finishing.

At 32, Rayudu has played 34 One-Day Internationals and six Twenty 20 Internationals for India. He averages 50.33 in ODIs and has scored two centuries and six fifties, this despite never getting a decent run in the team and being shuffled up and down the order. Almost every time he has been given a chance, through injury to someone, Rayudu has found a way to score runs and make himself useful to his team.  If one had to describe how important Rayudu was for his previous franchise then it can be well recollected that in an interview with Nita Ambani, she addressed him as “Ambavati Rayudu”. Although he has been tremendous for MI but it is quite sad the person in charge could not get his name right. This, in a nutshell, is Rayudu’s career, his life in cricket.

CSK face Rajasthan Royal tomorrow at Sawai Mansingh Stadium at Jaipur and if we go by what happened in the match against Kings 11, it will be good wicket for Spinners and pacers who can vary their cutters and slower deliveries well and an ideal surface to win the toss and bat first.