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

  • 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.