Ravi Shastri, whose term as India’s head coach ended last month, spoke out about Ambati Rayudu’s omission from the team for the 2019 ODI World Cup. Shastri said that he had “no say” in the choice, but agreed that either Rayudu or Shreyas Iyer “could’ve come in” as a specialist middle-order batsman. The No.4 batter was one of India’s key concerns leading up to the World Cup, and after trying out numerous options such as Rayudu, Iyer, Hardik Pandya, Manish Pandey, and Rishabh Pant, the team management was not satisfied with the performance.
Rayudu appeared to be the one who had the upper hand among them. The right-hander averaged 42.18 and had an 85.60 strike rate in the 15 matches he played in the two years running up to the ODI World Cup.
However, the New Zealand tour before to the World Cup changed a few things. At No. 4, Vijay Shankar was tried out. Shankar edged out Rayudu when the 15-man roster was announced, because to his “three-dimensional” abilities.
“After the Champions Trophy (2017), we tried quite a few people in that position. We did give a few more chances to Rayudu. Vijay Shankar is three dimensional. We are looking at him at no. 4 to begin with. We also have Dinesh Karthik and Kedar Jadhav. It’s not that anything that went against [Rayudu], it’s that a few things went for [Shankar],” then chairman of selectors MSK Prasad had said in a press conference.
However, the New Zealand tour before to the World Cup changed a few things. At No. 4, Vijay Shankar tried out. Shankar edged out Rayudu when the 15-man roster was announced, because to his “three-dimensional” abilities.
“I had no say in that. 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,” Shastri told
Needless to say, the move backfired during the World Cup. After Shankar’s injury, India had to test out a number of different possibilities at No. 4, with little success.
Rayudu was shunned not once, but twice. Pant, who was not part of the original squad, was picked as a replacement for Shikhar Dhawan when he was injured and ruled out.
In the World Cup semi-finals, India was defeated by New Zealand, which was finally won by hosts England.