While heading into the World Cup 2019, it almost seemed that Ambati Rayudu was lock-in for the team after being the preferred candidate at the no.4 slot for Team India for the last one year. But the selection committee which was then led by MSK Prasad bounced up a shock when they unexpectedly omitted Rayudu from the team and picked Vijay Shankar as a substitute. It led to a lot of controversy with many people feeling that Rayudu was persecuted in the circumstances.
Then Rayudu posted a sarcasm-laden ‘3D’ tweet which led to a widespread debate on social media. The no.4 slot eventually turned out to be India’s Achilles heel at the World Cup as they bowed in the semis to New Zealand with the batsmen failing at the penultimate hurdle.
Former BCCI selector, Gagan Khoda spoke about the controversial choice in an interview with Sportskeeda. He said that Rayudu’s confidence going into the 2019 World Cup was low and that played into the minds of the selectors.
“Ambati Rayudu was experienced and you were looking at the World Cup. We carried on with him for a year but we felt he was getting stagnant. The confidence level going into the World Cup wasn’t there. We couldn’t get any youngster in because the tournament was in England also.”
While Khoda has a strong claim regarding the dropping of Rayudu, it made little sense as Kohli & Co. had openly termed the Hyderabad-born cricketer as their No. 4 batsman in late 2018.
Moreover, Rayudu’s absence was felt as the situation was tailor-made for a batsman like him to defend and stretch the innings during India’s 240-run-chase versus New Zealand in the semi-finals.
Khoda also opined on what went wrong for Kohli-led India in the tournament. “I never thought we were weak anywhere. It was just one bad day that we had. One day the match didn’t happen, the next day it happens and the momentum finishes. You have to start all over again, and it happens,” he concluded.
Rayudu had later declared his retirement when the World Cup was in progress. Though, he made a comeback to the game in August, leading Hyderabad in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy tournaments.
MSK Prasad also opened up on the incident and acknowledged that he felt bad for the Hyderabad cricketer.
“I felt seriously for Rayudu. I can clearly say that. It was a very touch and go issue. Our committee always felt that he should be on the radar of Test selection after the 2016 Zimbabwe tour. And, I spoke to him as to why he was not focussing on Test cricket,” Prasad told Sportstar in an interview.