Had no say in dropping Ambati Rayudu for the 2019 World Cup, reveals Ravi Shastri

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Ambati Rayudu's exclusion from India's 2019 World Cup squad had come as a surprise to many

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Had no say in dropping Ambati Rayudu for the 2019 World Cup, reveals Ravi Shastri

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SportsCafe Desk

12/10/2021

Ravi Shastri has revealed that he had no say in Ambati Rayudu being dropped for the 2019 World Cup in England. Rayadu, who was a regular in India’s ODI setup during the 2018-19 season, was rather surprisingly overlooked for the tournament despite having excelled at the No.4 spot in the build-up.

Former India head coach Ravi Shastri has revealed that he didn’t have a say in middle-order batsman Ambati Rayudu being dropped from India’s 2019 World Cup squad. Rayudu, who had scored 639 runs at 42.60 from 21 matches between January 2018 and March 2019, was primed to bat at No.4 for India at the marquee tournament, but was overlooked for all-rounder Vijay Shankar in the final squad.

Shastri revealed that he wasn’t okay with the idea of multiple wicketkeepers in the squad, and that Rayudu and Shreyas Iyer could’ve made the cut. Apart from former captain MS Dhoni, India had two specialist wicketkeepers in Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant in the squad, alongside KL Rahul and Kedar Jadhav, which totalled five potential wicketkeeping options.

“I had no say in that,” Shastri told timesofindia.com. “But I wasn't okay with three wicketkeepers being picked for the World Cup. Either Ambati or Shreyas could've come in. What was the logic in having MS Dhoni, Rishabh and Dinesh all together? But I never interfered with the selectors' work, except when I was asked for feedback or as part of a general discussion.”

Notably, the then skipper Virat Kohli had backed Rayudu as India’s No.4 looking ahead to the World Cup.

“We only changed the No. 4 slot because we wanted somebody to cement it,” Kohli had said during the home series against West Indies in October 2018. “We believe that Rayudu is the right person to capitalise because he's experienced and he has won many games for his state and in IPL cricket. He has a great one-day record already for India.

"So the batting is more or less balanced now and these 18 games would be to get the perfect combination that we want to take into the World Cup.”

Rayudu eventually decided to bow out of all forms of cricket, after he was ignored when selectors had opted to go for Rishabh Pant and Mayank Agarwal as respective replacements for the injured Shikhar Dhawan and Vijay Shankar during the World Cup. However, he did return to List A and T20 cricket (including the IPL) thereafter.

Meanwhile, Shastri also explained the exclusion of the experienced Ajinkya Rahane during the 2017 Cape Town Test, and Cheteshwar Pujara at Edgbaston in 2018. The two non-selections had been much debated then, with India having lost on both occasions.

“It was always going to be between Rohit and Ajinkya,” Shastri said on the Cape Town Test. “There was no space for both. Rohit had got runs and we had been watching that Test hunger build in him. So, we went by form.”

On Pujara’s snub at Edgbaston, the former India all-rounder said:  “We told him. He wasn't in great form, and he understood why it was being done. I personally told him. And in fact, dropping him in that Test did wonders. He came back with a lot of hunger, and it showed in the ensuing Tests.”

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