Ambati Thirupathi Rayudu
September 23, 1985, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh
Right hand bat
Right arm offbreak
Middle order batsman
From the promise of a teenage prodigy to clashes with the authorities to finding redemption, Ambati Rayudu's career has witnessed several twists and turns. A pint-sized, fluent strokemaker, Rayudu, at 16, was touted as India's next great batting hope when he blazed an unbeaten 177 while opening the batting, to help India Under-19s complete a clean sweep of a one-day series in England in 2002. The Ranji Trophy season that followed was also exceptional - including a double-century and a hundred for Hyderabad in the same match against Andhra.
Rayudu enhanced his reputation further, leading India Under-19s to the semi-final of the World Cup in Bangladesh in 2004. After a disappointing 2004-05 season with the bat - where he managed 155 runs at 11.92 in the Ranji Trophy - he had issues with the then Hyderabad coach, Rajesh Yadav, and moved to Andhra the following season. He returned to Hyderabad the season after that but ran into trouble with umpires. At 21, his India career could have been over before it started when he chose to play in the Indian Cricket League in 2007. The opportunity to play alongside foreign stars in front of a television audience, he said, attracted him.
In 2009, his career received a fresh lease of life when he accepted the BCCI's amnesty offer and starred in the IPL. So impressive was Rayudu that his Mumbai Indians team-mate Harbhajan Singh called him "a special talent" and said he could see Rayudu playing for India. Rayudu made 356 runs in the 2010 IPL and was re-signed for the 2011 season. He stepped up further that season, making 395 runs to be the team's second-highest scorer, behind Sachin Tendulkar. He announced himself as a cool finisher when he swung a six, with Mumbai needing four off the last ball against Kolkata Knight Riders in 2011. Rayudu floated across the batting line-up and even took the wicketkeeping gloves to lend more balance and remain a vital cog in the side.
He was finally handed his India debut in a low-profile ODI series in Zimbabwe in 2013. Keen to make up for lost time, he responded with an unbeaten 63 on debut, becoming the third-oldest Indian at the time, at 27 years and 304 days, to score a fifty on ODI debut. The following year Rayudu became the fourth-oldest Indian to score a maiden ODI ton with his unbeaten 121 off 118 balls against Sri Lanka in Ahmedabad. Rayudu was part of India's squad in the 2015 World Cup, but did not get a game. The following year, though, he was not part of India's World T20 squad.
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