Rayudu, who missed a Yo-Yo test and subsequently missed the England tour, came up with an innings of character (73 off 80 balls) in front of his captain and even outscored him in a century-run partnership for the fourth wicket.
“It was important to build a partnership, happy that I got some runs, but should have stayed till the end. It was a golden opportunity to make a hundred,” he said after batting fluently on Wednesday.
“Hopefully, I will score more runs. I have always batted in the middle-order, I am used to it. Batting in the middle-order, one needs to improvise and adapt to the situation. IPL is a great platform, thanks to Dhoni bhai and CSK for giving me a chance at the top of the order. I was pretty relaxed today, it isn’t a 320 wicket, the way Kohli batted today was unbelievable,” Rayudu added.
On the eve of the ODI in Vizag, Kohli gave Rayudu a shot in the arm by naming him as the batsman who had the potential to seal the No.4 spot, the only one the team management is still auditioning for ahead of next year’s World Cup. Kohli said that the batting order below No.4 was flexible.
“Batting order is always ready, especially after four. The guys below four are always flexible in terms of the situation. You want the best thing for the team. Being flexible is very important,” Kohli reckoned.
The Indian team has 18 ODIs before the World Cup next May and Rayudu is likely to get a long run to settle into the No.4 spot. “The only position we were trying to figure out was number four for a long time. We tried many players who unfortunately could not capitalise or cement their places in a way we wanted,” Kohli had said.
“With Rayudu coming in and playing well in the Asia Cup, it’s about giving him enough game time till the World Cup so that the particular slot will be sorted for us,” he added.
India tried Dinesh Karthik at No 4 in England and during the Asia Cup, while KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane too got the chance.
“The team felt there… and I also watched him… that he (Rayudu) is designed to play that middle-order batsman’s role. We feel that our middle order is more or less balanced now,” Kohli said. “We believe he (Rayudu) is the right person to capitalise on that spot. He is experienced and has won many games for his state and also in the IPL. He has a great ODI record already for India.”