CricketAnil Kumble Criticises Kohli, Shastri For Omitting Rayudu From 2019 World Cup
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Ambati Rayudu, an unsung hero of Indian cricket, bid farewell to his illustrious IPL career on a high note by clinching his sixth title, the third for the Chennai Super Kings. Despite being hailed as a workhorse in Indian cricket, Rayudu’s international career failed to live up to its potential, leaving behind a lingering sense of underachievement.

Rayudu’s journey with the Indian team reached its pinnacle during the build-up to the 2019 World Cup when he emerged as a promising contender for the much-debated No. 4 batting position.

Between September 2018 and March 2019, Rayudu exhibited his prowess, becoming India’s answer to the long-standing No. 4 conundrum. The stylish batsman’s bat spoke volumes, amassing 639 runs, including a century and four fifties, in 21 ODIs during that six-month period.

Despite his commendable performances, Rayudu was stunned to find his name missing from the final squad for the World Cup in England. Instead, the team management opted for KL Rahul as the preferred No. 4 batsman and included Vijay Shankar, an all-rounder, based on his IPL performances. As the tournament unfolded, it became evident that the decision was a flawed experiment.

Ambati Raydu against New Zealand //Getty Images

Four years later, former India coach and bowling legend Anil Kumble expressed his regret, labeling the omission of Rayudu as a ‘blunder.’ Kumble criticized the captain, Virat Kohli, and coach, Ravi Shastri, for their decision, emphasizing that Rayudu had been specifically groomed for the No. 4 role over the course of six months.

While speaking on Jio Cinema, Kumble said:

Rayudu should have played the 2019 World Cup. Oh yes, there’s no doubt about it. It was a huge blunder. You prepared him for that role for so long and his name just disappears from the squad. It was surprising nonetheless.

Kumble’s remarks came during a rain-interrupted IPL 2023 final, where Rayudu bid adieu to his playing career. The exclusion of Rayudu from the World Cup squad sparked widespread repercussions. Rayudu, clearly discontented with the selection process, took to Twitter to express his frustration.

He posted a controversial tweet, “Just ordered a new set of 3D glasses to watch the World Cup,” referencing former chief selector MSK Prasad’s comment that deemed Vijay Shankar a “3D player.” Rayudu’s disillusionment even led him to momentarily announce his retirement during India’s World Cup campaign, only to withdraw the decision later.

Regrettably, Ambati Rayudu never donned the Indian jersey again, leaving behind one of the most enigmatic endings to an international career. The omission from the World Cup squad remains a bitter memory for both Rayudu and his ardent supporters, who firmly believe that his contributions warranted a place in the prestigious tournament.

Rayudu’s IPL success serves as a testament to his remarkable skills, leaving fans to wonder what might have been had he been given the opportunity to prove himself on the grandest stage of them all.