Thank you for the memories, Rayudu!

Life can be cruel to your dreams. At times, it pushes you to a rock bottom; leaves you helpless. Life forced you to give up on your dreams so that you can come up. While a few decide to stay there trying hard, a few players decide to move on with life by giving up. Giving up doesn’t make them weak either. In fact, they become stronger. Stronger by letting go.

***

The career of Ambati Rayudu saw many lows than ups. Lows because of the impact it had on his life. Lows because of the expectations. Lows because of how the things ended up.

2002-2003 it was when his name became familiar to everyone, thanks to the runs he piled up in the first-class cricket, he was just 16 years back then. He amassed 698 runs with a double century and a century in the same match against Andhra Pradesh. Things were fine, it was falling into places. He was called the next big thing, was drafted for the India A side, told he will be groomed so that he can make the international debut in the senior team soon. He had to wait almost 11 years to make his international debut.

After being drafted to the ‘A’ team, Rayudu with all hopes led the Indian under-19 team in the World Cup. The star-studded team, consisting of players like Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, Shikhar Dhawan, Robin Uthappa, was supposed to win the World Cup but unfortunately, the stint ended up with the semi-final.

What followed was years of downfall. When he was very close to climbing the mountain, he fell. In 2005, he involved in a dispute with Arjun Yadav and Yadav attacked him physically with stumps. After some poor dispute, he had to leave Hyderabad and played for Andhra Pradesh before returning to Hyderabad.

After a series of poor performances in domestic cricket, he pushed himself to something that was the biggest trap the life had for him, at the age of 21, he decided to play in the rebel ICL tournament and potentially was banned till 2009.

He then concentrated on the domestic tournament and the IPL was an added plus for him to knock the doors of the selectors. He was in the probable list for a lot of times but never broke through.

He had to wait until 2013. He went on to play 20-odd matches for India and even was a part of 2015 World Cup squad but didn’t play there as well.

The biggest break of his life was 2018 IPL, and undoubtedly he enjoyed the best time. He was the part of IPL winning team, had runs to his name, and was back to the Indian team, and was called the reliable number four. Once again, the hopes, the expectations grew, and it looked like the things were falling into places, but it was too late for him. His body failed. He failed the Yo-Yo Test, something the teams take very seriously. If one thought that it would break him, he came back after clearing the test, and the things were pretty normal, back to how they were. What followed next was a ban for his bowling.
The 19-year-old Rayudu would have been shattered for the same because he always wanted to be a bowler. He looked up to Muralitharan, tried copying his action. He wanted to be one such bowler for India. He believed that he could make it but with time, he gave up the bowling, probably, the first thing he gave up in his life.

Then, he failed to impress in the IPL 2019, the World Cup snub and then he was overlooked for the second time as well. Now, that would hurt more but that is how life is.

May be, Rayudu has reached the saturation point of holding on.
Maybe, he was affected mentally.
May be, he thought he is fine without cricket.
Maybe, he was hurt.
Maybe, he was angry.
On himself, on the game, on life.
On the game, because it has always been brutal to him.
On himself because of kept sliding down when he shouldn’t
On life, because it has always been cruel to him.
On luck, because had it favoured him, he would have been playing the World Cup.

At times, you cannot help it. Life is cruel. Maybe, this is for the best. Hopefully, things get better at least now for him because he deserves it for holding on to something all these years to go down as a warrior, a fighter.

Thank you, Rayudu. You’ll be missed.