Ambati Rayudu played a cameo against Delhi Daredevils at the Wankhede Stadium, and since then the right-hander has hardly scored runs.

Opportunities have come far less to show his class on a consistent basis having to cede the No. 5 spot to Kieron Pollard.

Last Saturday he did not get a chance to take strike against Royal Challengers Bangalore with Virat Kohli’s sharp throw, and possibly R. Vinay Kumar’s lower limb blocking his path (not deliberate though), defeating him at the bowler’s end. Rayudu left the field stunned.

With the Indian team for the ICC Champions Trophy to be announced on Saturday, the 27-year-old’s collection of 91 runs in nine matches is not likely to attract much attention. But then twice he did not get to bat and once he faced a single delivery.

Rayudu has not allowed such circumstances to make him careworn; he has on the contrary been a conscientious fielder and a livewire on the field. Though much of the focus has been on Pollard as far as catching abilities go, starting with the stupendous catch he took to send back M.S. Dhoni at the MAC Stadium, Rayudu stole the thunder on two occasions in the last three days.

Rayudu ended RCB’s Chris Gayle’s presence in the middle with a super catch at deep mid-wicket. He was aware of the possibility of touching the boundary rope or even slipping over the line, but he adjusted his body wonderfully well to hold the catch. Then on Monday, he charged in from deep mid-wicket, took a superb catch to dismiss Kings XI Punjab’s Piyush Chawla. It was only his third catch of this season.

There is no gainsaying the fact that Rayudu is endowed with gifts to bat and field and even lead, qualities that were evident when he was part of the India under-19 team. He seems to have made the Twenty20 cut, selected as a replacement for Manoj Tiwary against England. But he did not get a game.

Tough competition

Will he be lucky enough to make the Champions Trophy squad? Competition would be stiff for middle order slots, but it would be interesting to see how the present selection committee, which has dropped big players, respond to a new challenge in the form of picking the squad for probably the last Champions Trophy.

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