Mumbai, July 25 -- For those following Indian cricket closely, Ambati Rayudu's debut at the age of 27 might seem a bit late. But it is better late than never.
Rayudu became the first player of the defunct Indian Cricket League to play for India, producing a composed 63 not out. The captain of the U-19 World Cup in 2003, the Hyderabad native saw his teammates Suresh Raina, Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik and Shikhar Dhawan all forge ahead while he toiled in the domestic circuit.
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Rayudu then joined the ICL in 2007, only to be banned by the BCCI. However, he accepted the cricket body's amnesty in 2009/10.
It is a phase he chooses not to dwell into. "I really don't know (if he could have made the India team earlier but for the ICL) and I don't want to think about it now. It is the past and it is gone. I'm only looking at what is happening now, and the future. When I got back, I was looking to take it one match at a time. I am happy to have been really consistent," Rayudu told HT when he was called to India squad for the first time, for the T20 series against England last year.
Rayudu's coach Vijay Paul is delighted. "It has been a long wait, but the wait made him tougher and hungry to perform. He told me (before the start of the series) that all he wanted was a chance. All this comes behind consistent performances in domestic circuit and for India A."
Rayudu's father, Sambasiva Rao, was relieved that a decade-long wait finally ended. "We were waiting for this moment for so long and we are happy he played with a calm mind," he said.
But to hold on to his place, Rayudu will have to keep scoring. "He knows he is fighting for a spot and he needs to make use of every chance. Nobody doubted his abilities; he has overcome harsh days to make a breakthrough."
"He will have to be ready to play anywhere in the middle order," said Rayudu's former coach and India spinner Venkatapathy Raju.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.