Rohit Sharma is right: Ambati Rayudu has done enough to be India’s number 4 in World Cup 2019
In the post-match press conference after the 4th ODI against the West Indies, in which he pulverised the opposition bowling with yet another 150 plus score, Rohit Sharma was full of praise for the other centurion from the match, Ambati Rayudu. According to Rohit, Rayudu has “solved all the mysteries of No. 4” and that “till the World Cup, there won’t be any talk of No. 4”.
Rohit is absolutely right. With all the talk of India being too dependent on its top three, in the last few months, Ambati Rayudu’s performance at No. 4 has been very solid and consistent, if not flashy. In fact, his hundred in the 4th ODI was the first by any Indian batsman outside of the top three, since January 2017.
Though he scored a century after a long gap, it must be noted that he has been making significant contributions at No. 4 in almost every match he has played. It’s wonderful to see Indian team management showing a lot of faith in his capability and giving him enough opportunities to stake his claim for India’s World Cup squad.
Some of the credit must go to Rohit Sharma too for giving Rayudu the confidence that he belongs in the international arena. During the Asia Cup, when there was a lot of pressure from various quarters to play KL Rahul ahead of Rayudu in the playing XI, Captain Sharma did not budge and played Rayudu in all the matches.
It paid off brilliantly for both Rayudu and the Indian team. Rayudu’s consistent performances in the middle order were a major factor in India’s title-winning run in the tournament.
After the first ODI in this ongoing series, Virat Kohli had openly declared how the team was looking at the prospect of Rayudu batting at number four for India in the foreseeable future. Now with the vice-captain reiterating the same, it’s indeed time that others outside the team, such as the critics and experts, concede that Rayudu indeed is India’s No. 4 in the World Cup squad.
At 33, Rayudu is an experienced campaigner. He is comfortable against both pace and spin. He is a thinking cricketer who plays according to situation. After failing the yo-yo test earlier in the year, he is now a much fitter player and is a brilliant fielder too. His ODI batting average is above 50, which is outstanding by any standard.
There is no reason why he cannot do the job for India at number four in the ICC World Cup 2019.