Rayudu retires after World Cup snub

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Middle-order batsman Ambati Rayudu has announced his retirement from all forms of cricket, two months after being controversially left out of India’s World Cup squad.

Rayudu, 33, made his ODI debut against Zimbabwe in 2013 and played 55 ODIs, scoring 1694 runs at an average of 47.05.

He had retired from first-class cricket in November last year in a bid to focus on his limited-overs career, following a successful return to the India ODI set up after injury troubles.

At the time, Rayudu looked to have sealed the much vaunted No. 4 spot in the India middle order after a stellar IPL in 2018, where he topped the run charts for Chennai Super Kings in a victorious campaign. He held it till as recently as the ODI series against Australia in March. He was not, however, picked in the 15-member squad for the ongoing World Cup, with Vijay Shankar preferred because, the selectors said, he offered “three dimensional” abilities.

Rayudu’s response to that, a tweet referring to his “3D glasses”, seemed to be an indirect jibe at the selectors for ignoring him.

Despite being named one of five reserves, Rayudu wasn’t chosen even after Vijay was ruled out of the World Cup with an injured left toe. The selectors, upon request from the team management, preferred a top order batsman in Mayank Agarwal instead.

Rayudu was also not picked when the team management sought a replacement for the injured Shikhar Dhawan earlier in the tournament. Rishabh Pant, who was also talked of as a potential No. 4 candidate, was chosen ahead of Rayudu.

“I would like to bring to your kind notice that I have come to decision to step away from the sport and retire from all forms and levels of the game,” Rayudu wrote in an email to the BCCI. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the BCCI and all the state associations that I have represented, which include Hyderabad, Baroda, Andhra and Vidharbha.

“I also would like to thank Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings for their support. It has been an honour and privilege to have represented our country. I would like to thank the captains I have played under – MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma and especially Virat Kohli – who always had shown great belief in me throughout my career with the Indian team.

“It has been a wonderful journey of playing the sport and learning from every up and down it brought up on for the last 25 years at various different levels. Finally, I would like to thank my family and all the well-wishers who have been with me throughout this wonderful journey.”

Rayudu’s selection in recent times has sparked controversy. In June 2017, he was withdrawn from India’s ODI squad for England after he failed the yo-yo test. He subsequently cleared the tests in September and made a comeback during the home series against West Indies.

Rayudu topped the run charts – 190 runs in five innings – during India’s 4-1 ODI series win in New Zealand in January-February. His top score of 90 in the fifth ODI came on a Wellington greentop that helped arrest a top order collapse, and set the platform for India’s victory. His subsequent three outings that returned 18, 13 and 2 against Australia may have resulted in his ouster.

As a 16-year old, Rayudu was touted as one of the future stars as early as 2002, when he smashed an unbeaten 177 in a successful chase against England Under-19. He subsequently led India at the Under-19 World Cup in 2004, a side that had a number of future India internationals like Robin Uthappa, Suresh Raina, RP Singh, Irfan Pathan, Shikhar Dhawan and Dinesh Karthik.

In 2007, Rayudu signed up with the controversial Indian Cricket League, leading to a BCCI ban which was eventually lifted when he took up the amnesty. Upon return in 2011, Rayudu switched from Hyderabad to Baroda, Vidarbha to Andhra before retiring with Hyderabad in India’s domestic circuit. (ESPNCricinfo)

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