Ego or bad luck, what led to Ambati Rayudu's untimely retirement?
The dust has settled on the shock announcement. Ambati Rayudu, forever considered a classy batsman who never fulfilled his true potential, has called time on his international career.
The 33-year-old middle-order batsman was snubbed thrice by the Indian selectors and denied a World Cup spot despite two players from the original squad, Shikhar Dhawan and Vijay Shankar, getting ruled out due to injury and being replaced by others. That was the last straw in Rayudu's tumultuous relationship with the Indian set-up.
Rayudu departs the international stage with a creditable total runs of 1694 at an average of 47.00, which included three centuries. To be fair to him, he has always performed to the best of his abilities whenever called upon to do duty for the national side, but never cemented his place in the same. India captain Virat Kohli rightly paid a handsome tribute to the former Hyderabad captain on Twitter.
However, Rayudu's career as a cricketer was often hampered by bad decision-making that were engendered by bouts of ego and impulse; these decisions played a huge role in his early retirement after being left in the lurch.
Rayudu was one of those high-profile names that had signed up for the ill-fated Indian Cricket League way back in 2007, leading to his first clash with, and subsequent ban by, the BCCI. His other poor cricketing decisions centred on moments of hot-headedness both on and off the field, that severely impacted his reputation.
This included a well-publicized scuffle with Mumbai Indians teammate Harbhajan Singh, another in an IPL match against Royal Challengers Bangalore a few years prior, clashes in his early days in the Ranji Trophy and another on-field bad behaviour that led to suspensions and fines.
Rayudu's ego seemed to dominate his career even as he matured as a batsman. The final straw was his snide tweet regarding Vijay Shankar's 3D abilities that the selectors had cited while informing why the former was picked in the 15-man World Cup squad. This tweet, though not censored by the board, possibly led to the inevitable repercussion of him not getting a call-up despite the injuries. However, fate has also not been kind to him when it comes to representing India.
Rayudu began his ODI career with a charming half-century against Zimbabwe on debut; big things were expected of him post that innings, but what he became the protagonist of was a tale of frustration. Near misses included being part of the 2012 World T20 initial list but not getting a place in the final team and then getting into the 2015 World Cup team but not getting game time.
His bad luck followed him with the India team switching to the yo-yo test to gauge fitness and the batsman failing it in embarrassing fashion, subsequently dropping out of the team for a while. However, the last straw was definitely the 2019 World Cup where he was favourite to get the crucial No.4 batting position for a while but saw himself in the sidelines once again.
BCCI added insult to injury by naming him in the standbys but not picking him despite Dhawan and Shankar being ruled out.
A tale of unfulfilled promise
Rayudu, has over the years, suffered at the hands of destiny, a part of his downfall was also his own doing. His lack of care for fitness, his failure to sort out his bowling action that led to the ban and his motor mouth, have all played their part. Indian cricket has seen many such tales of talented players achieving a lot, but in the end failing to fulfil their potential to the utmost and not doing justice to the ability they had been bestowed with. Ambati Rayudu will remain such a name.