Rayudu leaves imprint in rare opportunity

Agarkar: Won't be surprised if Rayudu is picked ahead of Rana (3:00)

His presence will give Mumbai more balance going into the playoffs, feels Brad Hogg (3:00)

Star turn

Ambati Rayudu left this IPL with injury after Mumbai Indians' first game. He had been a regular in their line-up. On April 24 he tweeted that he had been declared fit "a few days back", and that he was eagerly awaiting a call-up. Such was the quality of the Mumbai line-up, though, that he found it near impossible to force his way back in.

It seemed the pitch had retained some moisture from the rain just before the start of the match. Put in, the Mumbai top order had to struggle against the new ball that seamed and swung. They were up against a side that had not lost in a chase at this ground in the last 12 matches. It didn't help that Saurabh Tiwary got stuck and notched the joint-slowest 50-plus score of this IPL, 52 off 43. For a while - during his return to old Mumbai Indians days through a 61-run partnership with Tiwary - it seemed Rayudu, too, was in danger of playing a slow innings. He was 26 off 23 at one stage.

Unlike Tiwary, though, Rayudu found that next gear, and was irrepressible as he went on a rampage from the 16th over onwards. He scored 37 off the next 14 balls he faced, taking the side to a total they considered match-winning. They were aiming for 165 because the pitch was sticky, and they knew that with anything over 175 they would have probably won. Rayudu took them to 173. In the end, Kolkata Knight Riders ended up with 164.

The wow moment

The attack. It was like a switch had been flicked on in the 16th over. He hit Umesh Yadav, Sunil Narine, Trent Boult and Kuldeep Yadav for boundaries in the process. It was as if he picked his spot, and managed to hit there no matter where the ball landed. A good example of it was his shuffle across to Boult to pick him up over square leg for a six that brought up his fifty.

Stats that matter

  • Tiwary and Rayudu had added 388 runs as a pair in their debut season for MI in 2010, most by any pair for MI that season.

  • Twenty-three of the 37 balls that Rayudu faced were just outside off; he made 43 off them.

  • The last time Rayudu kept wicket in a T20 match was in 2013.

  • Seven of Rayudu's 14 half-centuries have come away from home.

What they said

"It was a tough wait after injury, and the team was doing well. Rightly, I was sitting out. We were looking at 165 because the wicket was a little sticky. We knew anything between 175 and 180, we would win. Honestly, I don't enjoy the keeping but I had to do the job. They need to look after me."
Ambati Rayudu on how tough a season it has been for him