New Delhi: A maiden India call-up after 11 seasons of first-class cricket is rare but Ambati Rayudu's case is one of a kind, and he says playing as a professional for Baroda changed his perspective towards the game before eventually becoming the turning point of his career.
"I feel my decision to play for Baroda instead of Hyderabad has been the turning point. I came here as a professional and was warmly accepted. I had a larger responsibility and it changed my perspective. I am at peace with myself and that has helped me perform," the 27-year-old Rayudu told PTI on Tuesday.
Rayudu has been a regular feature in the Mumbai Indians’ line-up for the past three seasons but the talented Hyderabadi said that not only IPL but his performances in first-class cricket and A tour haven't gone unnoticed. "I have been scoring consistently for Baroda in the past few seasons. My century for India A in four day' Test in New Zealand boosted my confidence. Obviously, playing alongside Sachin Tendulkar in Mumbai Indians was a big learning experience.
Rayudu has been drafted into India's squad in place of injured Manoj Tiwary for the England T20s.
"This season, I was extremely satisfied having scored 85 against UP on a green-top in Kanpur. In Baroda also, we play on seaming tracks which helps batsmen to grow in confidence."
The call-up was a bit of "surprise" as he came in as a replacement after Manoj Tiwary was declared unfit. "I didn't even know that Manoj was injured so I wasn't expecting a call-up. Obviously, playing first-class cricket all these years, it's there in your head. The burning desire to wear the national jersey and I am very happy."
Deemed as an India prospect in his teens, Rayudu lost his way during the middle years. He left Hyderabad for Andhra after his infamous fight with then HCA supremo, Shivlal Yadav's son Arjun Yadav, and then joined the rebel ICL, which dented his chances to play for India considerably.
"I don't want to dwell on the past and would like to look forward. It doesn't matter whether I am picked in the final XI because this is a moment I want to savour all my life. I am very happy. I would take this opportunity to thank my family as well as friends who supported me in good as well as bad days. I would also like to thank my senior Hyderabad colleague VVS Laxman, who has given me a lot of love and affection."