Ambati Rayudu has been a victim of some tough selection and bad luck throughout his career © Getty Images (File photo)
Ambati Rayudu has been a victim of some tough selection and bad luck throughout his career © Getty Images (file photo)

There have been many who have performed consistently at the domestic level and earned the tag of being the ‘next-big-thing’ by connoisseurs of cricket. Some have excelled at the international level while some have under performed and went to the oblivion. Ambati Rayudu has been a peculiar victim of performing well in both the circuits but still has not been able to embark on a long journey with the Indian cricket team. He first shot to fame with his epic 114-ball 177 not out against England Under-19s at Taunton in 2002. After being around in domestic cricket for several years, he finally earned a name and place in ICL, he was discarded from the national team and only in 2010 when he became a part of Mumbai Indians (MI) in IPL; he got a reprieve to his struggling cricketing career. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs Zimbabwe 2016, 2nd ODI at Harare

It seems as if Rayudu has never lost form. Whenever he comes into bat, he gives a feeling that he is aware of the movement in the pitch and has patience to build innings around him. He takes his time, sometimes too much, but more often than not, he delivers. In 2010, Rayudu represented MI in IPL 2010. He featured in all 14 games and piled up 356 runs at an 27.38 with a solid strike-rate of 144.8. He has always been the mainstay for his IPL franchise since then. His overall average stands at 27.67 but his strike-rate has gone down to 126.6. Nonetheless, when the chips have been down for MI, he has stood his ground and played important cameos now and then.

Coming to the Indian team, Rayudu debuted in India’s tour of Zimbabwe 2013, and scored 63 not out in his first outing. After an impressive start, he still had to warm the bench as there were plenty of options for MS Dhoni in the middle-order and he did not fit in. He was kept as a backup in the squad for Australia, South Africa and New Zealand in 2014. In the same year, when India was touring England, he got a chance in the ODIs. He again shone with an average of 50.67. Next up was a five-match ODI series against Sri Lanka at home and he did not disappoint again.

He finished the series with 250 runs, a hundred and a staggering average of 62.50. The most amazing thing about Rayudu is that he does not hog strike when not required, and is perfect player for the middle-overs. He allows his partner the scoring rate as he eases off the pressure from them. The only thing that goes against him is that in doing this, he gets bogged down a bit too much, at times.

He is definitely the unluckiest player for Team India among the current crop of players. He made a decision to participate in the ICL which went totally against BCCI and his attitude at that time was also a starchy too. He did well do get included in IPL and work on his attitude but till then Team India had a settled batting line-up. Till date, being a permanent part of India’s second stringed tours, he takes a valiant effort to score runs and make a mark for himself. Unfortunately for him, his struggle for survival in the national team does not seem to die down. Read- MS Dhoni: BCCI to take call on India’s future captain

Team India has a reputed batting line-up in shorter formats with Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma starting the proceedings, followed by Virat Kohli. Rayudu is not an opener. which rules him out being a contender for the opener’s slot. The No. 4 position in ODIs is up for grabs, at present, but ideally it should go to Ajinkya Rahane or Manish Pandey. Rahane is a class apart, while Pandey has the age and big shots at his disposal. Ever since Dhoni expressed his willingness to bat at No.5 position, he may take up that position and the next position is for a finisher and Rayudu does not fit in that role.

The equations are still not in his favour but he keeps pressing a case for himself by scoring consistently. After the series win against Zimbabwe in the ongoing ODI series, he said that he was happy with the way his ODI career has shaped up and further added, “Even when out for a long period of time, travelling with the team, I try to keep myself motivated and focused. I prepare myself before the game as though I am going to play it,” depicting his urge to keep playing as long as he can.

The 30-year-old still has time, not a lot though, but needs to keep pressing hard and grab every opportunity to continue his strive for representing the nation. He has just completed 1,000 runs in ODIs and will like to add plenty before the twilight of his career sets in. For now, looks like he will have to carry on with his struggle for survival in the team.

(Aditya Sahay is a journalist with CricketCountry who is completely into sports and loves writing about cricket in general. He can be followed on Twitter at adisahay7)