Nearly two months after not being considered for the World Cup squad, India middle-order batsman Ambati Rayudu announced his retirement from "all forms and levels" of cricket. Although Rayudu was named among five standbys for the World Cup, he was ignored twice when the selectors and the Indian team management opted for Rishabh Pant and Mayank Agarwal as replacements for the injured pair of Shikhar Dhawan and Vijay Shankar.
Rayudu's decision comes a day after India qualified for the semi-finals. Rayudu, 33, sent an email to the BCCI top brass on Wednesday morning where he summed up his career as a "wonderful journey".
"I would like to bring to your kind notice that I have come to decision to step away from the sport and retire from all forms and levels of the game," he wrote in the email, accessed by ESPNcricinfo. "It has been a wonderful journey of playing the sport and learning from every up and down it brought up on for the last 25 years at various different levels."
Last November Rayudu had retired from first-class cricket in a bid to focus on his limited-overs career, following a successful return to the India ODI set-up after injury troubles.
It was a curious decision, and came on the back of the Asia Cup where he had made two half-centuries - one at No. 3 and another while opening - while replacing the captain Virat Kohli, who was rested for the tournament. On the eve of the home ODI series against West Indies, Kohli had said Rayudu was the right person for the No. 4 position "because he's experienced and he has won many games for his state and in IPL cricket. He has a great one-day record already for India, so I think the batting order is sorted as far as we're concerned."
Rayudu responded to the confidence reposed in him by scoring a half-century and a century - both at No. 4 - against West Indies. However, midway into the ODI series in New Zealand in January, Kohli's confidence in Rayudu seemed to have wavered as he re-opened the No. 4 debate saying India were still looking to solidify that vital middle-order spot. Incidentally, Rayudu had taken India past the finish line with an unbeaten 40 that day to help India take a 3-0 series lead. He finished the series by scoring 90 and taking the Man-of-the-Match award in the fifth and final ODI.
Vettori predicts Rayudu will be back in IPL
Daniel Vettori says that Ambati Rayudu has another few years of IPL cricket in him, despite his retirement from all formats
However, in the three-match ODI series against Australia at home in March, Rayudu failed with scores of 13, 18, 2. It did not help that Rayudu was suspended from bowling in international cricket when he opted not to submit a test of his action after it was reported in mid-January.
A weak IPL (282 runs in 17 innings) did not help him either before the Indian selectors, along with Kohli, opted for Tamil Nadu allrounder Vijay Shankar ahead of Rayudu. MSK Prasad, the chairman of selectors, said Vijay brought "three dimensions" to the team and hence was an appropriate choice.
Rayudu's immediate response was a cheeky tweet, referring to his "3D glasses", which seemed to be a jibe at the selectors for ignoring him.
In all, Rayudu, who made his ODI debut against Zimbabwe in 2013, featured in 55 ODIs, scoring 1694 runs at an average of 47.05. A short career, but it had its fair share of controversies. Last June Rayudu was withdrawn from India's ODI squad for the UK tour after he failed the yo-yo test, part of the fitness guidelines mandatory for selection.
Rayudu had also been pulled up in domestic cricket on several occasions for breaching the player's code of conduct. As a 16-year-old, Rayudu was touted as one of the future stars as early as 2002, when he smashed an unbeaten 177 to seal a one-wicket win against England Under-19 in Taunton. He subsequently lead India at the Under-19 World Cup in 2004, a side that had a number of future India internationals like Robin Uthappa, Suresh Raina, RP Singh, Irfan Pathan, Dhawan and Dinesh Karthik.
In 2007, Rayudu signed up with the controversial Indian Cricket League, leading to a BCCI ban which was eventually lifted when he took up the amnesty. Upon return in 2011, Rayudu switched from Hyderabad to Baroda to Vidarbha to Andhra before retiring with Hyderabad in India's domestic circuit. Rayudu was thankful to all the domestic teams and the two IPL franchises - Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings - for allowing him to grow as a cricketer.
He also acknowleged the various captains, especially Kohli, whom he said had given him the support at the right time. "It has been a honour and privilege to have represented our country. I would like to thank the captains i have played under, MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma and especially Virat Kohli who always had shown great belief in me throughout my career with the Indian team."