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A lot of eyebrows were raised when Mumbai Indians retained Ambati Rayudu in their squad during the IPL Player Auction. But the fact remains that the franchise is ready to invest on a talent like Rayudu who has shown his mettle as a batsman in the past. Over the years, the 28-year-old from Andhra Pradesh has grown as a batsman and only looks to get better with each game.
On Monday night against the Sunrisers Hyderabad, he stitched a 130-run partnership along with Lendl Simmons to guide a clinical chase for the Mumbai Indians, earning them a much-needed win to stay alive in the competition. Rayudu rues the fact that he has not been able to convert his good starts into big scores and vows to work harder on that aspect of his game. In this chat with IPLT20.com, Man of the Match, Ambati Rayudu, opens up about his batting and his good show at a place that is very special to him – Hyderabad.
Excerpts from his interview:
A half-century the previous game and a match-winning knock to follow; happy the way you are batting?
(Smiles) I am happy the way I am batting right now. Initially, I was getting a few starts, but I was unable to get the big scores. It is something that I am working on. As a team, unfortunately, we have not been winning as many games as we would like, but it is good to see that all the players are actually coming back into proper form. It is just a matter of time that we start playing perfect games like we did tonight against the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Every season is a different challenge and as a team we would hope to qualify for the Playoffs. You have been shuffled a lot in this batting order with the Mumbai Indians. How difficult is to bat at different positions?
I think you need to adjust and adapt as per the situation in this format of the game. In all these years with the Mumbai Indians, I have almost batted at every number. I believe if you are a good reader of the game and if you are not too rigid in the head, a batsman can bat at any position he wants.
Have you recognised areas that you need to work on, after batting for MI all these years?
It is a constant process of working at your game and getting better. I don’t think I am playing the same way as I have been playing since the start of my IPL season. There are few things that you would like to change. In the first few games of the season, you would know where exactly teams are looking to bowl at you and you try and improvise accordingly. You have to evolve as a cricketer and keep working at your game and find new areas to score runs.
There have been times when you have got your team to a good position, but given it away. How do you plan to finish more games for your side?
I don’t think there is a set rule or a pattern that you would follow to finish games. At times, when the game gets too easy, it gets a little difficult to finish because you tend to relax a little. Tighter the game goes, the better it is to finish. I will try and stay till the end and look to finish games for my side.
How was it to get a match-winning knock at your home ground?
I am from Hyderabad and it is a very special place for me. This is where I learnt and started playing cricket. To have played for Hyderabad and coming back to this ground is always special. I am happy I could play well tonight in front of my home crowd.
In your hometown, did you treat your teammates to a traditional Hyderabadi Biryani?
(Laughs) I got some Biryani yesterday afternoon for the whole team. Apparently, it looks like they have enjoyed a lot and it showed on the ground as well.
Aaron Finch and David Warner – Sunrisers Hyderabad’s new draftees – are all about brute force and power hitting. They both have been explosive in previous editions of the IPL and are looking to do the same this time around. While Finch accepts that he has not been in the best of forms for his team this year, he praises his Australian teammate David Warner for fitting in his new role effectively for the franchise.
Warner, who is usually known for his quick starts while opening the batting, is now donning a crucial role in the middle order for the Sunrisers. It is a challenge, which he has accepted with open arms, and in the process, slowly but steadily, he is fitting into this new role. Finch, who has known Warner from close quarters all these years, spoke about his mate’s new role and his ability to adapt to different situations and conditions.
Excerpts from his interview:
Not the best of starts for the Sunrisers at home. Where do you think it went wrong?
I thought the Mumbai Indians got off to a good start and when you have a big partnership like the one that Ambati Rayudu and Lendl Simmons had, it gets quite hard to contain the opposition. I thought we should have got a lot more on the board and I take full responsibility for not getting us the target that we wanted to achieve. I should have scored heavily in that middle period and in the backend of the slog overs. It was my responsibility and I did not fulfill it. It was frustrating that I could not find the middle of the bat in the end, which held us back by 10 or 15 runs. Credit to David Warner for accelerating the scoring and he played a fantastic innings. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the points tonight.
Talking about David Warner, how has he adapted to this new role of batting in the middle order?
I think it is fantastic for him. David Warner is a quality player and has been successful in all formats of the game. He is a guy who can adapt to different things and we have seen the results that he has put on the board over the last few innings. I think Warner has found a home at No.4. You have known him for quite some time now and seen his game up close.
Do you think he is finding it a bit difficult to bat in the middle after having opened the innings all these years?
I think he is fitting into the role very well. He has always been someone who has the teams interested at first. Whether the team wants him to bat at No.1, 6 or 11, I am sure he would do anything for the team. He is someone who is always prepared to put the side in front of himself, and that is the kind of teammate he is. He played the role in the middle order for the Delhi Daredevils in the past and has been successful for the Sunrisers Hyderabad so far.
You have had a couple of big partnerships with him this season. Do you guys discuss your respective roles and responsibilities on and off the field?
It is something that we do not talk about when we are away from the game. But when we are in the middle, we are pretty clear about the plans that we are going with and the bowlers we are targeting. When you bat with a guy like Warner, you just try and fit in with him to the best of your ability. We have a good relationship and it is comforting to bat with someone like him and Shikhar Dhawan. It is good fun.
Are you happy with your own form this season?
I have not been in the greatest of forms lately and my statistics have reflected that. It was nice to get some runs tonight and contribute to the team with a big partnership. But it still was not for a winning cause. I would rather get a zero and win the game.