Zimbabwe v India, 1st ODI, Harare July 24, 2013

'More than nervous, I was emotional' - Rayudu

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Ambati Rayudu's personal history has all the makings of a classic bildungsroman. The early promise of a teenage prodigy, the growing pains, the rebel years, and now redemption. The final chapter of his story is yet to be written, but now that he's enjoyed a successful debut for India, it's a lot more likely that his ending will be a happy one.

"It feels marvelous," said Rayudu after he shared a match-winning 159-run stand with Virat Kohli to help thump Zimbabwe by six wickets in the series opener at Harare Sports Club. Kohli departed before the match was won - though not before racking up a 15th ODI century - but Rayudu stood firm and hit the winning runs off a Tinotenda Mutombodzi full toss.

"It's been pretty emotional," he said. "More than nervous, I was very emotional." If that was the case, he hid his emotions well after entering with India at 57 for 2 with the openers back in the pavilion. India weren't exactly under intense pressure at the time, but the match was far from won.

With Kohli stroking the ball supremely at the other end, Rayudu was afforded the luxury of time and space to play himself in, and left three of his first 10 deliveries alone. Placing the ball and running well, he left the bulk of the aggressive stroke play to Kohli and reached a debut fifty, off 74 deliveries, in the 39th over.

"I think he's playing the best cricket possible," Rayudu said of Kohli. "I definitely feel that he's the best in the world right now in the one-day format. He made it a lot easier for me, and I was just looking at the way he was constructing his innings. It's a very good learning experience."

Rayudu's clashes with authority over the years have been well documented, and a large tattoo on the side of his neck completes the 'bad boy' image, but it was at the IPL that he found a support structure to temper his fiery side and harness his potential. Whether the tournament helps or hinders young cricketers' development is a deeply divisive issue, but in Rayudu's case the Mumbai Indians set-up seemed to bring out the best in him.

"My family, my friends and especially the Mumbai Indians support staff [have been there for me]," Rayudu said. "Sachin [Tendulkar] and Robin Singh especially. They've helped me a lot, and I'd definitely like to thank them for that.

"I always had the belief that if I could get things right and I could get my mind right I could make it into the team one day, and I'm really happy that I got my chance today."

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ravi_hari on July 25, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    Better late than never. In Rayudu's case it is completely true. Just like his MI mentor Robin Singh, Rayudu blossomed too early and never got the chance to showcase his skills at the highest level. Petty politics and his own inconsistant form made it impossible for him to be noticed. I dont think ICL was rebellion. If you do not get chances you would like to make the most of any opportunity that comes your way. Then the IPL has really given an opportunity for him to have an exposure to the public at large and the selectors too. His exploits with the bat and behind the wickets caught the eye of many and in the past two years he had come close to selection many times. Finally when he got the chance he did not squander it. A well composed and confident knock. Just like Dhawan, he arrived with vengeance and one only hopes he continues to do so whenever given a chance. With the Indian middle order packed, getting into test team will be very tough but no harm in dreaming. All the best ATR.

  • Rodc on July 25, 2013, 3:28 GMT

    I had seen him open the inning forIndia inU19 against England and score a century and i still remember the word of Ian botham "we have seen the next superstar of Indian Cricket today" and finaaly now the time has come.

  • rohan024 on July 29, 2013, 3:53 GMT

    @Flash007 - Rayadu could have been don bradman 10 years back, but how is that relevant to what he is today. How good he was in 2003 should have no bearing on team selection for 2013. Call it circumstances, politics, bad luck or whatever, the fact is he is an average FC batsman and don't deserve to play for India over players like Rahane, Badrinath, Manoj Tiwary, Pujara etc etc.

  • mahi678 on July 27, 2013, 17:14 GMT

    @rohan024, at begining of his career he looked to be next big thing, made brillant knocks. But he cant keep promse for long. He may look good when facing balls but he may lack consistency. people say he is unlucky. but he made not much either of late.

  • Fast_Track_Bully on July 26, 2013, 3:54 GMT

    @bee-eer. Improve rankings to where? India already at top spot! Also they will get 1 point only as ZIM is a lower ranked team. But India will lost 3-4 points if they lost!. Do you think a team will send a B team to 'improve ranking' in such a situation. May be your team doing that. too funny!

  • GrindAR on July 25, 2013, 21:04 GMT

    I wud luv 2 see him xcell in all formats... he is capable... but at this level keeping his cool is important... the difference between consistence part of playing XI and sitting on bench/not selected is mostly decided by how seamless and effective player one can be... Certainly likability factor need to be good... Hope he matures as a player representing his country.

  • SamRoy on July 25, 2013, 17:27 GMT

    Rayudu is the third best batsman in the country currently. I have been saying that for the last 7 months. Only Pujara and Kohli are better batsman. Ok Dhawan comes into the mix as well. Rayudu has always looked very comfortable at the crease something I have not been able to associate with Badrinath, Tiwary or Rahane. Even Rohit looks less assured when the ball is swinging but still overall he looks assured.

  • ProdigyA on July 25, 2013, 13:52 GMT

    Hopefully he will carry on the legacy of VVS who is also from AP. There is a lot of competition for a spot in the middle order, Pujara (IMO, is the best), Manoj Tiwary (most unluckiest guy), etc and you should feel lucky to get a chance ahead of them. Make the most of it and good luck to you Rayudu.

  • Flash007 on July 25, 2013, 13:08 GMT

    @Rohan024 - Numbers never give you the full picture my friend....AT Rayudu 10 yrs back was the brightest young talent in the country according to many experts in the game and also prompted someone like Sachin to comment that Rayudu played like him. Now, we wudnt be questioning their judgement, would we? Given the number of controversies he had, some within his control & a lot outside, I would say he did a great job averaging 46. Had he had a stable career, his avg wud have been close to 70's. Any lesser player in his place would have got destroyed by now, leave alone playing IPL. He totally deserved his debut.

  • srikanthGM on July 25, 2013, 13:04 GMT

    Rayudu couldn't get national attention because of petty politics at state and national level. Well deserved debut .. better late than never. Hope he gets to play till and in next world cup.

  • ravi_hari on July 25, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    Better late than never. In Rayudu's case it is completely true. Just like his MI mentor Robin Singh, Rayudu blossomed too early and never got the chance to showcase his skills at the highest level. Petty politics and his own inconsistant form made it impossible for him to be noticed. I dont think ICL was rebellion. If you do not get chances you would like to make the most of any opportunity that comes your way. Then the IPL has really given an opportunity for him to have an exposure to the public at large and the selectors too. His exploits with the bat and behind the wickets caught the eye of many and in the past two years he had come close to selection many times. Finally when he got the chance he did not squander it. A well composed and confident knock. Just like Dhawan, he arrived with vengeance and one only hopes he continues to do so whenever given a chance. With the Indian middle order packed, getting into test team will be very tough but no harm in dreaming. All the best ATR.

  • Rodc on July 25, 2013, 3:28 GMT

    I had seen him open the inning forIndia inU19 against England and score a century and i still remember the word of Ian botham "we have seen the next superstar of Indian Cricket today" and finaaly now the time has come.

  • rohan024 on July 29, 2013, 3:53 GMT

    @Flash007 - Rayadu could have been don bradman 10 years back, but how is that relevant to what he is today. How good he was in 2003 should have no bearing on team selection for 2013. Call it circumstances, politics, bad luck or whatever, the fact is he is an average FC batsman and don't deserve to play for India over players like Rahane, Badrinath, Manoj Tiwary, Pujara etc etc.

  • mahi678 on July 27, 2013, 17:14 GMT

    @rohan024, at begining of his career he looked to be next big thing, made brillant knocks. But he cant keep promse for long. He may look good when facing balls but he may lack consistency. people say he is unlucky. but he made not much either of late.

  • Fast_Track_Bully on July 26, 2013, 3:54 GMT

    @bee-eer. Improve rankings to where? India already at top spot! Also they will get 1 point only as ZIM is a lower ranked team. But India will lost 3-4 points if they lost!. Do you think a team will send a B team to 'improve ranking' in such a situation. May be your team doing that. too funny!

  • GrindAR on July 25, 2013, 21:04 GMT

    I wud luv 2 see him xcell in all formats... he is capable... but at this level keeping his cool is important... the difference between consistence part of playing XI and sitting on bench/not selected is mostly decided by how seamless and effective player one can be... Certainly likability factor need to be good... Hope he matures as a player representing his country.

  • SamRoy on July 25, 2013, 17:27 GMT

    Rayudu is the third best batsman in the country currently. I have been saying that for the last 7 months. Only Pujara and Kohli are better batsman. Ok Dhawan comes into the mix as well. Rayudu has always looked very comfortable at the crease something I have not been able to associate with Badrinath, Tiwary or Rahane. Even Rohit looks less assured when the ball is swinging but still overall he looks assured.

  • ProdigyA on July 25, 2013, 13:52 GMT

    Hopefully he will carry on the legacy of VVS who is also from AP. There is a lot of competition for a spot in the middle order, Pujara (IMO, is the best), Manoj Tiwary (most unluckiest guy), etc and you should feel lucky to get a chance ahead of them. Make the most of it and good luck to you Rayudu.

  • Flash007 on July 25, 2013, 13:08 GMT

    @Rohan024 - Numbers never give you the full picture my friend....AT Rayudu 10 yrs back was the brightest young talent in the country according to many experts in the game and also prompted someone like Sachin to comment that Rayudu played like him. Now, we wudnt be questioning their judgement, would we? Given the number of controversies he had, some within his control & a lot outside, I would say he did a great job averaging 46. Had he had a stable career, his avg wud have been close to 70's. Any lesser player in his place would have got destroyed by now, leave alone playing IPL. He totally deserved his debut.

  • srikanthGM on July 25, 2013, 13:04 GMT

    Rayudu couldn't get national attention because of petty politics at state and national level. Well deserved debut .. better late than never. Hope he gets to play till and in next world cup.

  • Surajrises on July 25, 2013, 12:14 GMT

    @UbiquitousWALL I totally agree with you that our Pace Bowlers looked so ordinary when compared to the spell which Zim bowlers bowled. People will keep talking. Our own MS Dhoni went for a DUCK on his debute against Bangladesh and that too on a Sub-Continental pitch! This boy has got his chances after such a long time and people are busy talking about how ineffective Zim bowlers were according to them. Ridiculous! Well played Ambati Rayudu... Keep up the good work but I am sure he himself knows that its gonna be very difficult to get into the Indian team. Dinesh Karthick himself has got a well deserved chance after ages so I hope he doesn't get thrown from the team and he performs...

  • rohan024 on July 25, 2013, 12:06 GMT

    Not sure why many are saying that Rayadu was due for debut in international cricket for long. One look at his record, and you could make out that there's nothing special about it. FC average of 46, when most of his peers like Rahane, Pujara, Tiwary are averaging in 60. I am one of those who feel that he is in the Indian team because he plays IPL for an influential team else there are at least 5 FC batsmen who deserve to play ahead of him.

  • on July 25, 2013, 11:04 GMT

    There was one guy Named as Amol Majodar from mumbai.....He made a lot of rus in domestic cricket,but he dont get a chance in international level....in previous days i thought the same fate is for rayudu also...but now he got a chance...and he proved... Ambatty is my favourite cricketer iam expecting a good carreer for him.... He is played more comfortable than rohit sharma...

  • anver777 on July 25, 2013, 10:20 GMT

    Wish Rayudu had not begun his ODI career similar to Manoj Tiwari, who started with a century & then benched in the next game when the regulars played......... he's a fantastic outfielder too & can be a good asset for future !!!!

  • on July 25, 2013, 10:12 GMT

    with rayudu, pujara, tiwary m, rahane, maybe zol and chand, our bench strength is good, just wish we had the same with bowling which is average at best

  • A.Ak on July 25, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    Exception of RSharma, I think India got the right team. He is playing as a opener, still he hasn't converted a single start in to a solid score, like Dhawan did. He is talented, but he has got problems in his attitude. Fingers crossed, wish he performs well.

  • on July 25, 2013, 9:17 GMT

    nice buddy.extraordinary innings against below average bowling attack.

  • bee-eer on July 25, 2013, 9:14 GMT

    i cant believe anyone takes this series seriously. Its just for TV viewers and to improve Indias ODI standing

  • UbiquitousWALL on July 25, 2013, 8:53 GMT

    I read the above posts and I see some people describe the Zimbabwean attack as ordinary. I would like to remind them of our own "attack"<if one may call it that>, we failed to take a single wicket in helpful conditions, early in the day. None of our pace bowlers had any kind of penetration. Compared to our bowlers, I think the Zimbabwean fast bowling pair were far more aggressive and penetrative. They may lack the discipline of a higher ranked pace duo, but they were not found wanting for pace or zip off the wicket.

  • on July 25, 2013, 7:17 GMT

    He was considered the next big thing at that time and should have made his debut a decade ago. Fortune had its own say. At least, he has got his chance and will be watched closely from hereon. A failure here and there would not be tolerated as the Indian middle order is already crowded.

  • on July 25, 2013, 7:09 GMT

    well played buddy......... but lots to prove.....it was very ordinary bowlng...taylor was not evn attackng whn rayudu came,,...... cmmon jus keeplong on, lonf off inside wickets will start loosng...........

  • on July 25, 2013, 6:59 GMT

    Very happy for Rayudu, but at the same time it was bizarre to see Pujara still out of the team... He surely deserves a good run in the ODI setup ... and I still don't understand the good reason for the selectors giving Raina such a long rope... agreed that he is a match winner when in form, but he has hardly had any big innings of note in any format over the last 2 years... he surely can't cling on to his place with his fielding! Come on selectors!

  • on July 25, 2013, 6:40 GMT

    I want to see him at no 6 and rohit sharma replacing sachin - when he retires.

  • sachin_vvsfan on July 25, 2013, 6:36 GMT

    Happy for Rayudu(and would like to see him in Test matches His temperament was good against the likes of steyn even in IPL) Time to bring on Pujara and drop vinay kumar and test Mohit. With the inclusion of Pujara and Rayudu the likes of Karthik, Raina, Rohit Yuvi should feel the heat to perform consistently.

    @Kalyan Sundar True. this wasn't the sort of the debut that deserves any high praise given the average boling attack but from what i have seen in IPL he showed lot of character against the likes of Steyn. My bet is that he will become a good Test batsman. Shame that the likes of Raina, Yuvi got numerous test chances a head of him. He deserved some chances and time will tell how well he fares

  • nayonika on July 25, 2013, 6:05 GMT

    Good for Rayudu and plenty of options for Indian cricket. Looks like the bench is crowded with talent,all wanting to grab that one opportunity and cement their position in the side. Happy days ahead?

  • on July 25, 2013, 5:03 GMT

    Rayudu is still the same as he was in his yester-years. Ideally, he should have matured by way of having the right attitude but I sill feel that this particular rebellious streak is not controllable by him. As far as his debut innings, all I can say is that - it was a benign attack, bland pitch, non threatening target/ opposition and he had the benefit of Kohli playing aggressively at the other end; hence, he could afford to take singles and block out the rest. That said, he atleast did not waste even that (say, unlike Dinesh Karthik and Murali Vijay, who had failed to deliver in WI and Champions trophy under similar conditions). Only time will tell but he did not display any great sparks either while batting or fielding

  • Fast_Track_Bully on July 25, 2013, 4:40 GMT

    All the best man. There is a vacancy in the Indian middle order which is occupied by Dinesh Karthik for the last few matches. But there will be a tough competition between he and Yuvaraj.

  • on July 25, 2013, 4:38 GMT

    @StraightHit...I would say its not his attitude or discipline...Its the politics around him and not having a god father in cricket put him away. Once he moved away from Hyderabad and started playing for Baroda, he started getting opportunities. Does it mean he didn't play well when he was with Hyderabad or he became a superman playing for Baroda.

  • on July 25, 2013, 4:15 GMT

    Agree with what StraightHit said. He's a talented player, but his arrogant attitude on field as we have seen in IPL will be a big problem to overcome. We have already seen Gambhir out of the team because of attitude that outplayed his talent, and now out of the team.

    Being down to earth and respecting your opponents will take you far. All the very best Rayudu.

  • on July 25, 2013, 4:11 GMT

    "Need a good replacement for Sachin in the middle order fairly soon." Rohit Sharma? I think he will do well in Tests

  • on July 25, 2013, 3:41 GMT

    I don't know why people summarize the article while commenting...

  • Rohit... on July 25, 2013, 2:34 GMT

    @ StraightHit : Poor attitude... Right He should not have played for ICL.... Now look he has wasted his recious 6 years and Rohit and Kohli were established now.... If Rayudu had not played ICL then who knows he would have been the captain in this series

  • class9ryan on July 25, 2013, 2:28 GMT

    Terribly disciplined thats what u could say of the Rayudu of the past. This debut will help him to grow as a cricketer. If he sorts out the problems mentally a lot better, I think he's here to stay.

  • on July 25, 2013, 0:51 GMT

    Pressure must be building on Karthik. Pujara is sure to get his long overdue chance and would grab it with both hands, just like Rayudu. Going to be tough call for Dhoni whom to pick ahead of others. Rohit too should be feeling heat to keep performing like he does since he moved as an opener. Pujara can replace him as an opener if he falters, he has opened for India in tests.

  • Speedwheels on July 25, 2013, 0:47 GMT

    This guy is probably a better reserve keeper/batsman than Dinesh Karthik. I wonder what Raina is going in the top 6 when you have Pujara and Rayudu around..

  • on July 25, 2013, 0:23 GMT

    Transitions galore! Sehwag-Gambhir... to Rohit- Dhawan. Dravid...to Pujara. Harbhajan...to Ashwin. Kumble... to Mishra. Zahir... to Mohit Sharma / Unadkat. Don't know from whom... to Bhuvanesh. Sundry spinning allrounders... to Jadeja. Now, the author suspects Sachin... to Rayudu ( Though this last one is a little tough to imagine. But even f it turns out to be 50% true, good boadings for Indian Cricket.

    Guys like Vijay Zol, Sanju Samson etc are still getting readied in the replacement factory! (Though Unmukth is not having a smooth transition, as one hoped for).

    On the grey areas: A fast bowling-allrounder is still a missing link. And, Dhoni and Karthik are more or less the same age. But it is not an issue for two reasons. 1. Dhoni is not that old, and still the"'undisputed" and going strong. 2. Many young WK-batsmen are in the wood-works. In fact Sanju Samson himself is one!

  • dishNub on July 25, 2013, 0:03 GMT

    @straightHit - you must be kidding when you put Rayudu ahead of Rahane as Sachin's replacement.

  • CricketCrazyCheri on July 24, 2013, 23:52 GMT

    I beg to disagree about the comments on his poor attitude and lack of discipline. I'm from Hyderabad and have seen him play and practice in our local city grounds. He is a very silent and emotional person. Takes cricket very seriously. He was considered the next big thing of Indian cricket till his under 19 days. Like all young talented cricketers he had attitude too. Don't tell me Yuvi, Kohli, Rohit & co were down to earth when they started to shine. Our incompetent and corrupt HCA ruined his life. Mr. Shivlal Yadav saw to that. Because of the tussle with his son. After Azhar came VVS and now Rayudu. Notice how many good cricketers my state produced? Thanks to HCA. Rayudu joined ICL because of HCA. He understood he would never play for India. IPL gave him the wild card.Why does such talented cricketer play for Baroda Ranji team and not his home team? HCA made his life miserable. No wonder he was emotional more than nervous. He has waited the longest. Go Rayudu. Make India proud.

  • on July 24, 2013, 23:43 GMT

    Rayudu is test material, and its good that he transformed his game for the shorter formats. If he can keep up his performance in the chances that he gets, he can be drafted into the test side and can easily replace someone like Tendulkar. Rayudu's technique is very good and he can bat in tough conditions.

  • CricketChat on July 24, 2013, 21:06 GMT

    Though highly talented, Rayudu had a poor attitude and lack of discipline to go with it earlier. Should have played for India ahead of people like Raina and Rohit Sharma. Hope he learnt his lessons and use this opportunity to cement his place in the team. Need a good replacement for Sachin in the middle order fairly soon.

  • CricketChat on July 24, 2013, 21:06 GMT

    Though highly talented, Rayudu had a poor attitude and lack of discipline to go with it earlier. Should have played for India ahead of people like Raina and Rohit Sharma. Hope he learnt his lessons and use this opportunity to cement his place in the team. Need a good replacement for Sachin in the middle order fairly soon.

  • on July 24, 2013, 23:43 GMT

    Rayudu is test material, and its good that he transformed his game for the shorter formats. If he can keep up his performance in the chances that he gets, he can be drafted into the test side and can easily replace someone like Tendulkar. Rayudu's technique is very good and he can bat in tough conditions.

  • CricketCrazyCheri on July 24, 2013, 23:52 GMT

    I beg to disagree about the comments on his poor attitude and lack of discipline. I'm from Hyderabad and have seen him play and practice in our local city grounds. He is a very silent and emotional person. Takes cricket very seriously. He was considered the next big thing of Indian cricket till his under 19 days. Like all young talented cricketers he had attitude too. Don't tell me Yuvi, Kohli, Rohit & co were down to earth when they started to shine. Our incompetent and corrupt HCA ruined his life. Mr. Shivlal Yadav saw to that. Because of the tussle with his son. After Azhar came VVS and now Rayudu. Notice how many good cricketers my state produced? Thanks to HCA. Rayudu joined ICL because of HCA. He understood he would never play for India. IPL gave him the wild card.Why does such talented cricketer play for Baroda Ranji team and not his home team? HCA made his life miserable. No wonder he was emotional more than nervous. He has waited the longest. Go Rayudu. Make India proud.

  • dishNub on July 25, 2013, 0:03 GMT

    @straightHit - you must be kidding when you put Rayudu ahead of Rahane as Sachin's replacement.

  • on July 25, 2013, 0:23 GMT

    Transitions galore! Sehwag-Gambhir... to Rohit- Dhawan. Dravid...to Pujara. Harbhajan...to Ashwin. Kumble... to Mishra. Zahir... to Mohit Sharma / Unadkat. Don't know from whom... to Bhuvanesh. Sundry spinning allrounders... to Jadeja. Now, the author suspects Sachin... to Rayudu ( Though this last one is a little tough to imagine. But even f it turns out to be 50% true, good boadings for Indian Cricket.

    Guys like Vijay Zol, Sanju Samson etc are still getting readied in the replacement factory! (Though Unmukth is not having a smooth transition, as one hoped for).

    On the grey areas: A fast bowling-allrounder is still a missing link. And, Dhoni and Karthik are more or less the same age. But it is not an issue for two reasons. 1. Dhoni is not that old, and still the"'undisputed" and going strong. 2. Many young WK-batsmen are in the wood-works. In fact Sanju Samson himself is one!

  • Speedwheels on July 25, 2013, 0:47 GMT

    This guy is probably a better reserve keeper/batsman than Dinesh Karthik. I wonder what Raina is going in the top 6 when you have Pujara and Rayudu around..

  • on July 25, 2013, 0:51 GMT

    Pressure must be building on Karthik. Pujara is sure to get his long overdue chance and would grab it with both hands, just like Rayudu. Going to be tough call for Dhoni whom to pick ahead of others. Rohit too should be feeling heat to keep performing like he does since he moved as an opener. Pujara can replace him as an opener if he falters, he has opened for India in tests.

  • class9ryan on July 25, 2013, 2:28 GMT

    Terribly disciplined thats what u could say of the Rayudu of the past. This debut will help him to grow as a cricketer. If he sorts out the problems mentally a lot better, I think he's here to stay.

  • Rohit... on July 25, 2013, 2:34 GMT

    @ StraightHit : Poor attitude... Right He should not have played for ICL.... Now look he has wasted his recious 6 years and Rohit and Kohli were established now.... If Rayudu had not played ICL then who knows he would have been the captain in this series

  • on July 25, 2013, 3:41 GMT

    I don't know why people summarize the article while commenting...