Shane Watson feels "it was a loss for India's one-day team" that they didn't pick Ambati Rayudu for the 2019 World Cup, saying after the middle-order batsman's match-turning innings for Chennai Super Kings against Mumbai Indians in the 2020 IPL opener that it was "incredible" the way he countered Jasprit Bumrah in Abu Dhabi.
"Rayudu batted absolutely beautifully for his 71 (in 48 balls)," Watson said in a chat during his T20 Superstars podcast. "He is an incredibly talented batsman and I think it was a loss for India's one-day team by not picking him in the 2019 World Cup squad.
"To be able to take down Jasprit Bumrah like he did was incredible. He's got scoring options all around the ground. And he's got a fair bit of point to prove as well against his old team Mumbai."
Rayudu walked in at 6 for 2 after two overs in the Super Kings' chase of Mumbai's 162 for 9. He then put on 115 runs with Faf du Plessis for the third wicket to put his team on the doorstep of victory, and the South African stayed till the end to finish with an unbeaten 58. But it was not just Rayudu and du Plessis. As Watson pointed out, new recruits Piyush Chawla and Sam Curran also played big hands - Chawla ended with figures of 1 for 21 in four overs, while Curran got 1 for 28 before smashing a crucial six-ball 18 at the death.
"Piyush Chawla bowled incredibly well, getting the crucial wicket of Rohit Sharma," Watson said. "[His] 1 for 21 in four overs is an amazing start. Also, Sam Curran went for 28 runs in his spell and got the key wicket of Quinton de Kock. And then his cameo at the end, coming in when we needed a little bit of a burst in the run rate - 18 off six balls, what a start for him!"
Du Plessis' hand was a crucial one, as it allowed Rayudu to play the way he wanted, with freedom. "Faf and his anchoring of our innings [was important]. 163 isn't a massive total, but for him to anchor the innings was really crucial," Watson said.
The Super Kings next play Rajasthan Royals in Sharjah on Tuesday, and would hope to make it two in two against a side that will miss one of its stalwarts - Jos Buttler - with a bit of uncertainty surrounding the participation of Ben Stokes and Steven Smith too.