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Ambati Rayudu: A promising career torn between dedication and destiny

Rayudu was a regular member in the Indian squad for the past one year and averaged 47.05 in the ODI format


India vs New Zealand 2019, Ambati Rayudu
Ambati Rayudu. Photo:PTI

A career that almost always fell apart after promising to fall into place -- Ambati Rayudu will be remembered as someone who could not live up to his rare cricketing talent, undone by a mercurial demeanour that often led to run-ins with authorities.

His cricketing journey ended abruptly on Wednesday after a heart-breaking and baffling World Cup snub.

In his mail to the BCCI, the usually outspoken Rayudu chose not to blame anyone and instead thanked the captains he played under.

Considering his temperamental persona, the 33-year-old's retirement did not come as a shock after Mayank Agarwal replaced the injured in the Indian team ahead of Rayudu despite the Hyderabad cricketer being in the list of reserves.

Rayudu saw more downs and ups in his chequered career comprising 55 ODIs and six T20s. Many touted him as the next big thing in Indian cricket when he made his first-class debut as a 16-year-old.

He made waves the following Ranji Trophy season, 2002-03, when amassing 698 runs including a double century and a century in the same match against Andhra Pradesh. It seemed things were falling into place when he captained India to the U-19 World Cup semifinals in Bangladesh.

However, an inconsistent run with the bat in the next couple of seasons and constant run-ins with Hyderabad coaches and officials adversely affected his career-graph. His life took a tumultuous turn when as a 21-year-old, he opted to play in the unsanctioned Indian Cricket League.

At that stage, it seemed Rayudu's dream to play for India will remain unfulfilled with the ICL deal but he was back in the BCCI fold after he accepted its amnesty offer.

The cricketing fraternity sympathised with the former India middle-order batsman, who was overlooked by the team management, which picked Mayank Agarwal as a replacement player for an injured in India's 15-man World Cup squad.

Rayudu made a decision to step away from cricket earlier today. In a letter to the BCCI, he said, "I have come to decision to step away from the sport and retire from all forms and levels of the game."

The 33-year-old expressed his gratitude to the national governing body for cricket and all the state associations including Hyderabad, Baroda, Andhra and Vidharbha, and IPL franchises Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians for their support.

Rayudu also thanked captains MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma and under whom he played.

The former middle-order batsman signed off, saying he learned from every up and down in his career at various levels. He also thanked his family and well-wishers for their continued support.

Rayudu was a regular member in the Indian squad for the past one year and averaged 47.05 in the ODI format. He had been team's number four batsman since the Asia Cup last year. He had scored one century and four half-centuries since then.

Rayudu even scored 113-ball 90 in New Zealand earlier this year paving the way for India's victory. But he fell off the wagon of late as he was not able to replicate his good performances in the ODI series against Australia. The batsman played 55 ODIs for India, scoring 1694 runs at an average of 47.06.

He rose to prominence once again with stellar performances for Mumbai Indians in the IPL and at the age of 27, finally made his India debut in Zimbabwe in 2013, scoring an unbeaten 63 at Harare.

Between 2014-15, he represented India in 27 ODIs before making a comeback to play three games the following year. He was even in the 2015 World Cup squad but did not get a game.

India captain Wednesday described Ambati Rayudu as "a top man" after the middle-order batsman, who was ignored for the ongoing World Cup, retired from all forms of cricket.

"Wish you the best going forward Ambati. You're a top man @RayuduAmbati," Kohli wrote on his official Twitter handle.

Former India batsman and Member of Parliament, on Wednesday blamed BCCI's selection panel for Ambati Rayudu's decision to retire from all forms of cricket.

Gambhir in a tweet cornered the selectors, saying they had an "unfulfilled career" and failed to give Rayudu a fair run.

"What surprises me most is that the entire @BCCI current selection panel had an unfulfilled career themselves!!!Even then they could not give a fair run to talent like @RayuduAmbati. What a shame!!! While it's important to win titles, guess it's more important to have a heart," Gambhir tweeted.

Former batsman Virender Sehwag in a tweet said that being ignored by the management must be painful for Rayudu. He further wished him good luck for his future endeavours.

"Must definitely be very painful at being ignored for the World Cup for #AmbatiRayudu but I wish him all the very best in life after retirement," Sehwag wrote.

Former minister and Chairman of IPL Rajeev Shukla said: "I don't think this was the right time for him to hang his boots, a lot of cricket is still left in him. His talent should have been used in a better way for the country which didn't happen."

In a Twitter post Shukla said "Too early, too soon for a man who had a lot of cricket left in him. @RayuduAmbati, the crowded stands of stadiums will miss your lofty strokes. Wish you well for life ahead."

Mohammad Kaif, the former batsman, said that Rayudu did everything he could to make a comeback in the team. He further added that the World Cup snub has hurt him deeply.

"Have to feel for #AmbatiRayudu, did everything he could to make a comeback, did well in the opportunities he got but the World Cup snub must have hurt him really deeply. Wish him the best in retirement," Kaif tweeted.

VVS Laxman, the former cricketer, felt sorry for in-form Rayudu and wished him happiness and peace in his second innings.

"Can understand the pain and anguish Ambati Rayudu may be feeling after the World Cup snub even after performing well. I wish him lots of happiness and peace in his second innings," Laxman said.

Chennai Super Kings (CSK), an IPL franchise, wished the retirement news was not true. It took to Twitter and said, "Rayudon't! Wish it wasn't true! #AmbatiRayuduRetires."

First Published: Thu, July 04 2019. 10:33 IST