Ambati Rayudu has always played a handy role for Mumbai Indians. The former Indian Under-19 captain, who has been in an out of the senior national team, has been loyal to Mumbai Indians ever since he was spotted and groomed by the great Sachin Tendulkar. In this season's Indian Premier League, when Mumbai Indians have hardly played like defending champions, Rayudu remains their best batsman.
Twenty-eight-year-old Rayudu, who was born in Andhra Pradesh (Guntur), is turning out to be a true Mumbai Indians soldier. On Monday, his 68 off 46 balls and his 130-run second-wicket stand with Lendl Simmons (68 off 50 balls) set up Mumbai's emphatic seven-wicket win against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Rayudu is the top run-scorer for Mumbai Indians in IPL 2014 -- 277 (ave.30.77) in nine matches. In a team of heavyweights like Kieron Pollard, Mike Hussey and Rohit Sharma, Rayudu is the only Mumbai batsman to score 250-plus runs in the present competition. On Monday, he struck his tenth fifty in IPL overall.
"I am happy the way I am batting right now. Initially, I was getting a few starts, but I was unable to get the big scores. It is something that I am working on. As a team, unfortunately, we have not been winning as many games as we would like, but it is good to see that all the players are actually coming back into proper form. It is just a matter of time that we start playing perfect games like we did tonight against the Sunrisers Hyderabad," Rayudu told www.iplt20.com on Monday.
Rayudu's contribution won him his fifth Man of the Match award in IPL. He has batted in almost all positions and on Monday, he came in at No. 3, ahead of Sharma and Pollard.
"I think you need to adjust and adapt as per the situation in this format of the game. In all these years with the Mumbai Indians, I have almost batted at every number. I believe if you are a good reader of the game and if you are not too rigid in the head, a batsman can bat at any position he wants," Rayudu said, showing great signs of maturity accumulated over the years.
For him and Mumbai Indians, the IPL has probably just begun.