No one saw this coming. Ambati Rayudu, India’s gutsy middle-order batsman, shocked the Indian cricket diaspora after announcing his retirement from all forms of cricket on the 3rd of July. 33-year-old Rayudu was one of the five standbys for the ICC World Cup 2019 in England. However, the selectors chose to ignore him and went ahead with players like Rishabh Pant and Mayank Agarwal.
This has most likely affected Rayudu’s decision, which must have been frustrated after being sidelined continuously despite putting up excellent performances.
“I would like to bring to your kind notice that I have decided to step away from the sport and retire from all forms and levels of the game,” Rayudu wrote in the email to the BCCI to officially announce his retirement from the game. He also added that his career was a “wonderful journey” and thanked the board for the support.
Rayudu had announced his retirement from first-class cricket in November 2018 as he wanted to put his entire focus on limited overs cricket for India. He was hoping to play in the World Cup and was part of the plans of the team management. But a sudden dip in form this year – 247 runs in 10 ODIs at an average of 30.87 with only one fifty – saw him being rendered to the sidelines and others being preferred instead.
But still, Rayudu had at least 3-4 years of cricket in him and could have made a comeback. Hence, his decision is rather sudden and sad.
Rayudu made his ODI debut only in 2013 and played 55 ODIs in his career, scoring 1694 runs in them at a healthy average of 47.05 with three hundred and ten fifties. His highest score was an unbeaten 124 against Zimbabwe at Harare in 2015. Rayudu also played 6 T20Is for India but couldn’t do much in them, managing only 42 runs.
Rayudu, however, did manage to leave an impression in the Indian Premier League where he represented sides like the Chennai Super Kings and the Mumbai Indians. It was the IPL that got him national recognition even before he had made his international debut. In 147 IPL matches since 2010, Rayudu had garnered 3300 runs at an average of 28.69 with one hundred and 18 fifties and a strike-rate of 125.95.
However, this year Rayudu was somewhat inconsistent in the IPL, collecting only 282 runs in 17 matches. This and his poor form in ODIs in the past few months would have affected the selectors’ decision to not take him in the final squad for the World Cup. Also, Rayudu’s cheeky “3D Glasses” Tweet after his non-selection in the World Cup might have irked the selectors.
Regardless, Ambati Rayudu was an elegant batsman – a brave fighter who could grind it out and even take bowlers on when needed. He was good at playing fast bowling and spin and had it in him to be the anchor for the team. Hence, his retirement brings a premature end to a promising career that never quite reached the high it could have.