Ambati Rayadu’s redemption in IPL 2018 bodes well for Indian cricket

One of the best things about the Indian Premiere League (IPL) is that it provides ample opportunities, even to those who have been struggling to make a name in international cricket, to grab the limelight and come into reckoning. In that regard, IPL 2018 has seen a redemption of sorts for Ambati Rayudu.

The 32-year-old Indian batsman has been in and out of the Indian team over the years, despite making an impression in whatever chances he has got. Rayudu has always been talented but somehow has been unable to secure a place in the national team. Perhaps it is because of other, more fancied players, being preferred over him or sheer bad luck, but the truth is that Rayudu has never got the recognition he truly deserves.

But IPL 2018 may well turn out to be a new chapter in Ambati Rayudu’s career. Representing the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), Rayudu has turned out to be one the season’s leading run-scorers with 535 runs in 12 matches along with one hundred and two fifties. Captain MS Dhoni has utilized him as an opener and Rayudu has flourished in that role, striking it at over 150 in the season – his highest in IPL history.

This is the first time that Rayudu has crossed even the 400-run mark in the IPL. In the recent match against the Sunrisers Hyderabad, Rayudu also went on to strike his maiden IPL ton while guiding his team to victory in a tough chase.

So what exactly has changed for Rayudu in this IPL?

Prior to this, Rayudu had represented the Mumbai Indians for several years but while he played well for them, he was never really allowed to express himself as freely as he has been with CSK under Dhoni. Often he was overshadowed in the start-studded Mumbai batting unit which has featured the likes of Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard, and Hardik Pandya, among others. He would be shuffled around the batting order regularly and many a time came in to bat way down the order.

With Chennai, Dhoni recognized Rayudu’s talent to strike the ball cleanly and has let him open the batting. Rayudu appears to be comfortable and at ease and one can feel that he is enjoying himself thoroughly in this role.

Moreover, the confidence and assuredness with which he been playing bodes well for him and for Indian cricket. At present, the Indian limited overs team is struggling to find a suitable option for the vital No.4 position. Till recently Manish Pandey looked set to be the one to take that position but his continued erratic form has presented a fresh dilemma to the selectors. The kind of form that Rayudu has shown in the ongoing IPL certainly makes a case for him being given more opportunities in the Indian middle order now. Thankfully, he has been selected for the limited overs series in England later next month and hopefully he will be given enough chances to prove his mettle.

In the 34 ODIs that Rayudu has played thus far, he has an average of 50.23 with two hundreds and six fifties. Those are pretty solid numbers and show that Rayudu has it in him to excel at the top level. He is the kind of batsman who can be handy on any wicket. Rayudu moves the strike along brilliantly, plays both spin and fast bowling well and has also improved his power game tremendously as has been seen in this IPL. If he can perform well in the upcoming series in England then Rayudu can be looked on as a long term prospect for the team, especially for the 2019 World Cup that takes place in the same country.

Rayudu’s journey in cricket has been very tough since a very young age. Despite having oodles of talent and scoring truckloads of runs as a youngster, he could not break in as the Indian team was teeming with batting stars during that phase. Life has been unfair at times on this talented Hyderabadi batsman as other, flashier players, kept on getting more opportunities while Rayudu kept grinding it out in domestic cricket. Thankfully, his sterling performance in IPL 2018 has brought him back into the spotlight. One hopes that this truly will now be the revival that Ambati Rayudu genuinely deserves.

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