Elated after a successful ODI debut following years of struggle, Indian batsman A.T. Rayudu thanked Sachin Tendulkar for helping him through the tough days of waiting.

“Sachin Tendulkar and Robin Singh helped me a lot and I’d definitely like to thank them for that,” Rayudu said. “I always had the belief that if I could get things right and I could get my mind right, I could make the team one day and I’m really happy that I got my chance today,” he added.

The 27-year-old Rayudu scored an 84-ball 63, forging a crucial 159-run partnership with skipper Virat Kohli that guided India to victory in the first ODI against Zimbabwe on Wednesday.

“It feels marvellous. It’s been pretty emotional,” he said. “More than nervous, I was very emotional,” he added.

Rayudu lauded Kohli, whose swashbuckling hundred blew away Zimbabwe. “I think he’s playing his best,” Rayudu said. “I definitely feel that he’s the best in the world right now in the one-day format. He made it a lot easier for me and I was just looking at the way he was constructing his innings. It’s a very good learning experience,” he added.

Rayudu, who has played 80 first-class matches, averaging over 46 for his 5,183 runs, also thanked his family for standing by him during the days of struggle. “My family, my friends, and especially the Mumbai Indians support staff have been there for me always,” Rayudu said.

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