Suresh Raina has opined that Ambati Rayudu was India’s best choice at the No.4 position for the 2019 World Cup, where they exited in the semi-finals. The southpaw also added that India could have easily won the competition had they opted for Rayudu instead of picking Vijay Shankar and later Pant.
Heading into the 2019 Cricket World Cup, it was quite evident that India’s major cause of concern was the No. 4 spot. Several batsmen tried their hands at the spot before 2019, but no one was able to stamp their authority. Ambati Rayudu was the only player who looked dependable at the spot and hence, was given an extended run. In the 55 ODI matches, he scored 1694 runs at a staggering average of over 47 where he almost looked as India’s first-choice pick at the position.
However, just before the World Cup, the selection committee led by MSK Prasad wanted youngster Vijay Shankar to fill in the shoes of the veteran batsman in the squad. Suresh Raina, who recently retired from international cricket, also believed that Rayudu would have been the best choice for India at the number four slot and further suggested that Men in Blue would have won the World Cup if he was in the squad.
“I wanted Rayudu to be India’s number four because he was working very hard, playing [for] almost one and a half years. He performed really well and he wasn’t there. I didn’t enjoy the tour in 2018 because of the circumstances where Rayudu failed his fitness test. It didn’t feel good that I was picked as he failed,” said Raina as quoted by Cricbuzz.
Shankar and Rishabh Pant, who eventually got the opportunity to play in the middle order, could not do much in the tournament and India’s Achilles heels were exposed against New Zealand in the semi-final before they crashed out of the tournament.
“He was good at number four. If he was part of the squad for the World Cup, we would have won the tournament. Rayudu was the best choice and as it’s the way he plays the game in the CSK. And he was batting really well in the camp in Chennai,” the left-handed batsman concluded.
Rayudu’s only failure came in the final ODI series against Australia just before the World Cup and he hasn’t represented India after that. The right-hander would now represent CSK in the upcoming 2020 edition of the IPL.