Ambati Rayudu, the reliable workhorse of Indian cricket, bid farewell to his IPL career in style, lifting a sixth title with the Chennai Super Kings. However, Rayudu’s journey with the Indian national team has been filled with ups and downs, particularly during the 2019 World Cup. Despite proving his worth as a No. 4 batsman in the lead-up to the tournament, Rayudu was shockingly omitted from the squad, leading to significant controversy. Former Indian coach Anil Kumble has since labeled this decision a “blunder,” highlighting the missed opportunity and the subsequent implications on Rayudu’s international career.
Between September 2018 and March 2019, Rayudu emerged as India’s solution to the long-standing No. 4 batting position dilemma. Following an impressive IPL 2018 season where he amassed 602 runs, Rayudu played 21 ODIs, scoring 639 runs, including a century and four fifties. His performances were more than decent, offering stability and reliability in the middle order. Rayudu seemed destined to fill the crucial No. 4 spot with the World Cup approaching.
To the surprise of many, Rayudu’s name was missing from the World Cup squad announced by captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri. Instead, KL Rahul was given the No. 4 role, while all-rounder Vijay Shankar was included based on his IPL performances. Anil Kumble, the former Indian coach and bowling legend, described the decision as a “blunder,” emphasizing the preparations and investment made in Rayudu for that specific role over six months. Kumble believes it was a missed opportunity by the team management.
“Rayudu should have played in the 2019 World Cup. Oh yes, there’s no doubt about it. It was a huge blunder. You prepared him for that role for so long that his name disappeared from the squad. It was surprising nonetheless,” Kumble said on Jio Cinema when the IPL 2023 final was stalled due to rain after the Gujarat Titans innings.
Disappointed and frustrated with the selection snub, Rayudu took to Twitter to express his dissatisfaction. He posted a controversial tweet, stating that he had ordered “a new set of 3D glasses to watch the World Cup,” referring to the comment made by former chief selector MSK Prasad, who labeled Shankar as a “3D player.” Rayudu even briefly announced his retirement during the World Cup campaign, adding to his international career’s mystery.
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Following the World Cup controversy, Rayudu never donned the Indian jersey again, leaving his international career in limbo. Despite his consistent performances and versatility, he failed to earn another opportunity, marking a rather abrupt ending to a player who showed great promise. The omission of Rayudu remains one of the most perplexing decisions in recent Indian cricket history, raising questions about the selection process and the team management’s judgment.