Hindustan Times (Lucknow)

After a roller-coaster ride

GETTING THERE After failing to cash in on his talent early on due to wrong choices, Rayudu is finally finding his feet

- Firoz Mirza ■ sportsdesk@hindustant­imes.com

When local boy Axar Patel came on to bowl at the Motera Stadium, Ahmedabad on Thursday, and the camera zoomed in on his beaming parents seated in the VIP box. The extra motivation helped the 20-year-old left-arm produce the best among India’s spin trio in the eleven.

That won’t be the case when Ambati Rayudu, fresh from his brilliant maiden century in the second one-dayer against Sri Lanka, takes the field for his first match at the Rajiv Gandhi Internatio­nal Stadium in Hyderabad, his original home ground, on Sunday.

Instead of cheering their son from the stands, father Sambasiva Rao and mother Vijayalaks­hmi will be away, offering prayers in the temples of Madurai. “We made the plan a fortnight ago. Right now we are in Kanyakumar­i and will be in Madurai on match day. But we will try to watch him play on television,” Rao told HT. TOO ANXIOUS

This has been the story ever since Rayudu started excelling in cricketing. Rao avoids going to watch his son play as he gets tense. “It really gets tense so I avoid it. It’s better to enjoy the match on television,” he said.

Touted as a bright future India prospect a decade ago, Rayudu missed the early chance. Issues with fellow cricketers in Hyderabad forced him to move to Andhra. If leaving a prominent team wasn’t enough, he surprised everyone when he joined the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL), casting serious doubts over his future.

Luckily, age was on his side. He returned to the official fold by seeking amnesty from the cricket Board in 2009. However, by then much had changed with his under-19 teammates Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik and Irfan Pathan having pushed far ahead. CHANGING FORTUNES

The tur ning point came in 2010 when the Mumbai Indians offered a contract and he was able to benefit from the guidance provided by Sachin Tendulkar. Having now shifted to Baroda from Andhra for more exposure, his good performanc­es did the trick as he was back in the limelight, forcing even his detractors to acknowledg­e.

“He was young and temperamen­tal, but now he has transforme­d completely. I think adversitie­s changed him entirely. He has gained the experience to tackle tough situations,” said his father.

Coach Vijay Paul, who shaped Rayudu’s early career, agreed.

“He is an attacking player by nature. He likes to play strokes and counts a lot on hand-eye coordinati­on. But in the last three-four years he has learnt to control his aggression. He has played at different positions and now understand­s the importance of his wicket,” Paul added.

Rayudu’s coach though will not miss out on Sunday. “A tournament is on and my team will be playing that day but I will surely go and watch him in India colours.”

Life has come full circle for Rayudu.

 ?? PTI PHOTO ?? It has taken Ambati Rayudu a very long time to come into his own.
PTI PHOTO It has taken Ambati Rayudu a very long time to come into his own.

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