Batting for Chennai Super Kings in the recently concluded Indian Premier League is the best one has ever seen from Ambati Rayudu. He was the highest run-getter for the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side, with 602 runs at an average and strike rate of 43 and 149 respectively. The soft-spoken and modest man clearly looked twice the player he has previously ever been.
The other aspect of Rayudu's batting that stood out, for those who understand their sport, was his ability to pick the ball quickly in the air and react. It was, as it seemed, a result of how hard he has worked over his fitness and so, it has shocked everyone that he has failed the yo-yo Test and now won't be traveling to England for the ODI series he was originally picked for, as a reward for his amazing form.
Fitness these days, unlike the yesteryears, is non-negotiable in modern-day International Cricket and hence, when the selectors, the most potent arm of a sporting culture, and the Indian team management makes these bold statements, everyone should be supportive of it. It enriches Indian Cricket.
Time moves on and India will have to now focus on the players who can fit in as an apt replacement for Rayudu who was supposed to be the solution for India's middle order problems.
This is where, team COC gets down to analyse and list out a few possible replacements for Ambati Rayudu for the all-important ODI series against the no.1 side in the world.
1. Rishabh Pant
By now everyone understands why Indian Cricket is excited about the young Rishabh Pant. The left-hander has been in brilliant form in the domestic first class cricket for Delhi, playing the attacking game that made him the most important player on the team sheet for his Indian Premier League side this season. Rishabh was brilliant for Delhi Daredevils, as he amassed 684 runs at an average above 50 and an outstanding strike rate of 173. The balance that his wicketkeeping provides to the side, has been an attractive proposition to the Indian Team for a while, as they picked him for the Nidahas Trophy in absence of MS Dhoni recently. He can fit into the Indian team, as they take on an ever-attacking England side, very well.
2. Manish Pandey
Not originally picked in the ODI squad, who knows what the absence of Ambati Rayudu might mean to the right-hander from Karnataka. There has always been a lot of thrill, skill, and quality about Manish Pandey but he has failed to exhibit the performances and the consistency with the bat, so far. But you can understand why the selectors and the team management find him as a handsome option. He may have failed, but there's a reason why Sunrisers Hyderabad felt that Manish Pandey is a player they can spend 11.5 crores on.
3. Ajinkya Rahane
Life could've been so simple, if we only had to go through the meditation, that an Ajinkya Rahane cover drive provides. Ajinkya Rahane has proved his mettle in Test Cricket with runs in all conditions for India. Rahane is a hands player while batting, he has a sound record playing the white ball game for Rajasthan Royals, he has the game to be as prolific in one day cricket as he is in Tests but if you look at his ODI record, you would find Ajinkya Rahane as an enigma. MS Dhoni openly criticised Rahane's ability to time the old ball and play big shots with it, once. You can understand why India didn't originally picked him for the series against England but this could be just the opportunity he needs to rejuvenate his one day career. He would relish it if given the chance, for he has his strong character to back him.