Ambati Rayudu is a classic example of a batsman who could not get enough opportunities to do justice to his plethora of talent. Rayudu was the captain of India’s under-19 world cup squad in 2004 that included players like Irfan Pathan, Dinesh Karthik, Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina, when a chain of controversies saw the elegant middle-order batsman switching allegiance to the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL).
Ever since his return to the BCCI-fold, Rayudu has 473 runs in 7 first-class matches for Hyderabad, a fifty in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Tournament, three fifties in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, and expectedly, has turned up the heat for Mumbai Indians rivals, as a top-order batsman and an occasional wicketkeeper. If pressure were a privilege, Rayudu is getting his share under the sun...
In 11 games, Rayudu has scored 268 runs at a strike rate of 150, including his latest match-winning effort against Bangalore, when he stepped down the pitch and sent Anil Kumble for some big sixes. MumbaiIndians.com caught up with the 24-year old for an exclusive chat. Here are a few excerpts:
You have gone through a lot in your career. How does it feel to back in the main fray, and playing alongside Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh?
It is a great opportunity for me to make a mark, and this is a great platform for youngsters like me to get noticed, while rubbing shoulders with the best players in the world. It feels really good to be contributing to the success of such a wonderful unit. I have really not thought much about what has transpired in the past. My focus is to deliver the goods for the Mumbai Indians and enjoy my batting and fielding.
Did you expect such a response? You have been part of the playing XI since the start of the season.
I was just waiting for an opportunity to perform and I was confident that I would grab the opportunity when it comes around. I would like to thank Sachin Tendulkar and the rest of the team management for believing in my abilities and persisting with me throughout the season. It is all a game of confidence at the end of the day.
How much has ICL helped you grow as a Twenty20 player? There was little T20 before that...
My batting style suits the Twenty20 format. In fact, Twenty20 not just suits my batting style, but the way I think on the field and the way I like to go about my game. I have some good experience under my belt and that helps in different situations.
Has that influenced your approach toward other formats?
As professional cricketers we have to learn to switch in and out of different formats all through the year. I have always enjoyed all three formats, and my performance for Hyderabad in the Ranji Trophy last year was very satisfying. But yes, I really enjoy the Twenty20 format a lot.
You never kept wickets for Hyderabad or Andhra. How did wicket-keeping come about?
I had kept in some league games and school games. I practiced a bit and felt comfortable about it. So I told Robin Singh that I would be keen to contribute to the side as a wicketkeeper also.
Are you enjoying your wicket-keeping?
It is an important role that the team management has trusted me with and I am happy to contribute in it for my team. It is all about performing well in the role assigned, and I am enjoying the pressure of wicket keeping and being a top-order batsman. It feels good that the team is giving me so much responsibility.
Having trained so much at NCA, how does it feel to come back to the Chinnaswamy stadium?
It feels great actually. I have spent so much time over here through the years, especially when I was training at NCA. It is a fantastic wicket to bat in. The whole aura of this stadium is amazing. I have enjoyed good success batting here in the past and I am glad to be back here.