ambati rayudu
Ambati Rayudu (AFP Photo)

Ambati Rayudu‘s sudden retirement from first-class cricket before the start of the Ranji season would leave him short of match practice ahead of twin ODI series against Australia and New Zealand but the Hyderabad cricketer is unfazed.

Rayudu plays only one format for India and his decision to quit Ranji Trophy and play ODIs and IPL raised a few eyebrows but the Hyderabad right-hander called it his method of managing the workload.

“I mean…the only thought process was to preserve my body as far as possible. I am 33. I have had surgery on my knee in the past. I really wanted to make efficient use of my body in terms of the amount of cricket I play,” Rayudu said on the sidelines of launch of the Junior Super Kings inter-school T20 championship 2018.

When asked that his decision would lead to reduced match practice now that he will get into the Australia series having not played a single match for two months, Rayudu couldn’t come up with a convincing reply.

“No, I mean definitely match practice is important. Anyway red ball cricket and white ball cricket there is a huge amount of difference. You can compensate by practising and playing other games,” he said.

However he didn’t elaborate the “other game” part as Mushtaq Ali Trophy (T20) will happen only after he finishes ODI legs of Australia and New Zealand.

While skipper Virat Kohli has made it clear that the team management is looking at Rayudu as a No 4 option going into the World Cup, the player himself doesn’t have any choices or preferences.

“I am basically not looking at any number as such. I am preparing for the series coming up in Australia. I am not really thinking too far beyond. As far as my training is concerned, I just look at my game and look at where I can improve and go about it,” Rayudu said.

Asked how challenging it was preparing for the ODI series in Australia, the Hyderabad cricketer said preparations were going on well for the tour.

“International cricket in itself is a challenge… so, all I can say is that I am preparing for the upcoming series in Australia the way I should. All I can say is I am preparing well..,” he added.

Rayudu, who returned to the national team after a good run for title winners Chennai Super Kings in the IPL last year during which he scored over 600 runs, said MS Dhoni trusted him and wanted to repay the faith in him and was happy to make most of the opportunities.

“Definitely… Dhoni bhai trusted me and I always wanted to repay the faith he had in me. I worked on my game and I am happy that I could make most of the opportunities I got,” he added.

Asked if playing aggressively helped turn things around during his stint for CSK, he said as he got backing from the people the job became easier. “I mean playing aggressively and playing aggressively with confidence is an entirely different thing. Whenever you have the belief, you can go out there and express yourself. Once people back you, the job becomes easier.

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Meanwhile, medium-pacer Mohit Sharma, who was picked by CSK in the December 18 auction for Rs 5 crore said he was delighted to be back at the franchise and added “it is always good to return home.”

“Always feels good to be back. Like you go to office and return home every day, it is good to return to CSK. The bond and the culture that CSK has developed, you don’t get it so easily anywhere else. It’s a family atmosphere.

“It’s not just in the players, you see it in the staff, and in the fans, those who support Chennai. I played elsewhere for 3 years, but this was always said about me – ‘Mohit Sharma, CSK player’. I love that, the feeling is really good,” he added.

Mohit, who played for Kings XI Punjab last year in the IPL, said his aim was to do well for CSK adding he was not thinking about returning to the national side.

“My aim is to do well for CSK. To be honest I am not thinking that much about return to national side. I will keep trying to do my best for CSK,” he added.

Asked if he was expecting CSK to bid for him again, that too for such a big price, he said, “If I say I was not missing CSK, I would be lying big time! Yes, I have missed CSK a lot. I have missed being part of CSK – even when I played elsewhere for 3 years, I used to think it would have been better for me to have been playing at CSK. The environment creates a lot of difference. No doubt, the MS Dhoni factor is always there. How well he understands you, how he handles you, that matters a lot.”