BANGALORE: A blistering unbeaten 63 off 50 balls under the watchful eyes of Sachin Tendulkar may have given a fresh lease of life to Ambati Rayudu's aspiration to play for India.
Seven years ago, Rayudu was India's under-19 captain but found himself sidelined later.
But he found himself in the spotlight on Tuesday night as his rollicking unbeaten knock in the IPL match against Royal Challengers Bangalore prompted his captain Tendulkar to make the magnanimous gesture of sharing the man-of-the-match award with him. The batting icon handed over the cheque of Rs 1 lakh to the youngster.
Tendulkar asks MI players to guard against complacency
As soon as the presenter Robin Jackman announced Tendulkar's name as man-of-the-match, the Mumbai Indians captain walked up with Rayudu and announced, "It will be bad if I don't share this with Rayudu".
"It was a brilliant innings from the young man Rayudu. It was a special stuff," the maestro said.
The 26-year-old Rayudu was hailed as a prodigious batting talent when he started his career in 2001 but for some reason he could not do justice to his immense potential.
"To be honest, the wicket was slow up front and improved as the game went on. But I'm really happy today. I would like to thank Sachin sir and Robin Singh. Sachin sir just told me to have patience. I am glad we ended up winning the game," Rayudu said.
Rayudu was selected to represent India's under-19 team for the tour of England in 2002 and scored 177 and 80 to lead his team to a 3-0 victory.
Rayudu, who currently plays for Baroda in the Ranji Trophy, captained the India under-19 team in the 2004 Under-19 Cricket World Cup and also became a regular in the India-A squad.
But a prolonged lean patch and differences with the Hyderabad Cricket Association officials prompted him to leave Hyderabad and play for Andhra.
His batting form deserted him and he got involved in a number of controversies which had a bearing on his career.
Disillusioned by his failure to make it big, he joined the rebel Indian Cricket League in 2007 and was banned by the BCCI. He returned to domestic cricket following an amnesty offer from the Board.
It was a call from Tendulkar which led to Rayudu joining Mumbai Indians last year and the youngster has justified the faith his captain had shown on him.