Chennai Super Kings (CSK) top batsman Ambati Rayudu will play for Baroda Cricket Association in the upcoming season after receiving a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Andhra Cricket Association. Rayudu will be available to play all formats, but he last participated in a first-class match in November 2017.
The 36-year-old batter has represented Hyderabad, Andhra, and Vidarbha. He had a two-year stint from 2012 to 2014 with Baroda in domestic cricket. His return is expected to boost Baroda’s batting department, who are also trying to convince India all-rounder Deepak Hooda to rejoin.
Baroda needs Rayudu to guide young players, BCCI secretary says
Rayudu approached the Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) and expressed his desire to play for Baroda while he was still competing in an Indian Premier League (IPL) season with CSK in April.
During the recent season with CSK, the veteran cricketer has struggled to make an impact on the four-time IPL champions. He had just played six games and had only 128 runs at an average of 25.60.
“Ambati, a member of CSK in the Indian Premier League, had approached us and expressed his desire to play for Baroda,” said BCA chief executive Shishir Hattangadi,
After several rounds of discussion, the highest council of the BCA finally agreed to include him on the Baroda cricket squad. The Baroda cricket team has a small number of senior cricketers on its roster. Rayudu’s presence on the team will be beneficial in numerous ways. BCCI secretary Ajit Lele said Baroda needed an experienced player like Rayudu to help guide the younger generations of cricketers.
“Baroda currently has very few senior players, and Ambati’s inclusion will help the team get a balance. We need an experienced player like him to mentor the players and also perform in the team,” said Lele.
Averaging 47, Rayudu has accumulated 1694 runs in 55 one-day internationals for India. Throughout his career, he has racked up three centuries and ten fifties. The right-handed hitter hit a personal best of 124. Rayudu has also represented India in six Twenty20 Internationals, where he collected 42 runs.
BCA 'hopeful' for Hooda’s return
The Baroda cricket team will benefit greatly from the addition of Rayudu. Baroda all-rounder Hooda relocated to Rajasthan after the BCA suspended his playing privileges due to disciplinary reasons.
The conflict with then-captain Krunal Pandya resulted in Hooda leaving Baroda in late 2020. After that, he had a fantastic season with Rajasthan and was called up to the Indian team. Since February, the cricketer has been a regular member of Team India's white-ball squads. He also had a breakout season in the IPL with Lucknow Super Giants, where he played alongside Pandya.
“As far as I know, they get along as well as they did earlier. They have cleared their differences. They played and excelled together for the same IPL team. They have sorted whatever issues they have,” Hattangadi told ESPNcricinfo.
“While we are hopeful of Hooda’s return, we can’t say for sure because from a cricketing perspective, it was Rajasthan who opened their doors for him when he needed a team. From our side, we’re making an effort. We’ll have to wait for a final call.”