Fans often refuse to see reason in blind devotion to their favourite cricketers.
The debate whether or not Ambati Rayudu deserved a place in the Indian team for the World Cup last year in England and Wales raged back to life after the right-handed batsman scored a match-winning 48-ball 71 for Chennai Super Kings against Mumbai Indians in the 2020 IPL opener.
The lampooning of then chief selector MSK Prasad and India captain Virat Kohli from Rayudu fans on social media reached venomous levels with the five-wicket win.
Do Kohli and the selectors really deserve that kind of treatment?
Let’s reopen Rayudu’s case and see if he was unfairly treated. To begin with, Rayudu, for the longest time, had fitness issues. He even failed the yo-yo test in 2018 at a time when it became a big marker for fitness in world cricket. When you are in Rome, you do what Romans do, don’t you?
Then let’s be very clear Rayudu never forced his way into the first team. He debuted for India in 2013 only after the management decided to rest a few stalwarts and test the second string. In fact all through his career he got matches against weaker opponents and when once in a while he got opportunities against big teams often due to injuries to the main players, he came up short more often than not.
The fact of the matter is it’s not Pakistan’s cricket team, it’s India’s where to succeed a batsman has to be exceptional from the word go. The competition for batting places is so tough that you won’t get so many chances to prove your point.
And then who scores at a strike rate under 80 in this day and age! To put it bluntly, it’s slow. It’s not the 90s, one has to keep up with the times. That strike rate suggests his ability to take singles and doubles is not particularly flattering.
Not to mention the controversy he brought upon himself during the 2019 World Cup when he mocked the selectors in a tweet. That kind of behaviour is definitely not becoming for an Indian cricketer.
Finally scoring for CSK or any other IPL team is no real benchmark. Yes, the league does allow the national selectors to test a few young cricketers now and then, but an overwhelming majority of them has failed to go beyond a couple of matches. Look at the case of Rishabh Pant... he is yet to play an innings for India in white-ball cricket that even remotely resembles his volcanic IPL exploits.
The truth of the matter is Rayudu hasn’t ticked all boxes requisite for a first-choice Indian batsman. He is good but not good enough for a long innings with the Indian team. Sometimes making peace with it is not a bad idea. Both Rayudu and his fans will do well to reconcile to this reality.
Also by the author: