Yes indeed. It has been a pursuit. Was it a pursuit for recognition? Success? Or was it a mere sense of belonging at the big stage? While batting on 99, he flicked the ball to square leg, many expected a quick run to the other end, a big leap in the air and an aggressive display of emotions. Well, much to the amazement of everyone, he jogged towards the non-striker’s end to complete his 100th run and the helmet’s grill couldn’t hide the only display of emotion, a smile, a smile of extreme satisfaction and contentment. As if a toddler had finally got his share of the cake he was craving for. He reminded millions of their childhood dream, but he also reminded many, it has been a long time coming.
In the 7th over, as Rahane was dismissed, it wasn’t Virat who stepped out to at no.3, rather it was Ambati Rayudu and it was the perfect platform for him. What followed was a crafty knock with 10 boundaries and 4 mighty sixes as he guided India to a comfortable victory. In the post-match presentation Kohli was kind enough to say, ‘he deserved this opportunity 12 years back.” Rayudu would know, it’s easier said than done. The ambiguous twists and turns in his professional career, be it captaining the Indian under-19 side, to be hailed as the next big thing in Indian cricket, a forgettable stint with ICL, followed by a ban and the downfall didn’t seem to have an end. In the same era, few cricketers made history, many hung their boots, the teammates he captained went on to have an incredible International career, be it Irfan and Raina, to name a few, a new crop of youngsters emerged in the cricketing arena and Rayudu was not to be seen in the side lines. But a revival was in the pipeline. As he cancelled his contract with ICL and BCCI uplifted his ban, he was finally back in the domestic circuit, doing what he was known to do. Perform and do that consistently. The IPL franchise Mumbai Indians provided him the much needed impetus. Since then, it has been 5 seasons and Rayadu still remains to be a pride possession. Harbhajan Singh once mentioned Rayudu was ready for international cricket. Yes, the Indian call was round the corner but he still had to wait. The likes of Hussey and Hayden hit their peak in the latter part of their career, but that’s not a common story in India.
I believe now the wait is finally over. Yes, he still needs to cement his place in the final 11, he is still an uncertain member of the 2015 world cup squad, but he is finally knocking hard on the selector’s office door. Whatever the outcome be, he has set a benchmark for himself and that’s going to remain. Maybe, that is how his story was scripted. The beard had to grow.
This is a guest post by Roshan Joseph who was a professional cricketer and represented Maharashtra in the All India Inter State tournaments conducted by BCCI. He has done a post-graduation in Sports Management post completing his B. Com. He is an avid cricket follower.
The article was also published at Sportskeeda.