Visakhapatnam | Anointed as India’s number four in the ODI format with the World Cup in mind, Ambati Rayudu on Tuesday said the responsibility does not pressurise him at all, as he preferred to stay in the present.
India and West Indies are locked in a five-match ODI series, with the home team leading 1-0 on the eve of the second match here. “Not really,” Rayudu said when asked if he is feeling any pressure three days after skipper Virat Kohli backed him for a position for which the team management has tried as many as seven batsmen since the tour of Sri Lanka in 2017.
The 33-year-old began his first-class career way back in 2001-02 but had to wait till 2013 to make his international debut, against Zimbabwe, aged 28. The Hyderabad batsman added, “To be very honest, I am just focused on this series at the moment and not really thinking too far ahead. “I don’t think it is new for me as I have been batting in the middle order for long. There is nothing new that they have asked me to do.
Rayudu was dropped from the Indian ODI squad headed for England earlier this year for failing the mandatory yo-yo test, but has since made it clear that he has nothing against strict fitness benchmark. “I have been working on my fitness right from my injury. I don’t think yo-yo test had any bearing on how I was preparing or how I was going about my fitness. Even now I am going to the NCA, there is a small pocket of free time for a week and I am happy that I cleared the test. “I think even before the IPL, it’s not that I was not in contention. It’s just that I had few injuries. IPL was good platform to come back strong, especially on my fitness.”
In the two Tests as well as the only ODI played so far, the West Indies bowling attack was not able to challenge the Indian batting enough, something that has so far deprived the home team of a chance to test its middle-order ahead of the 2019 showpiece event. Asked about it, Rayudu did not read much into it.
“Obviously it’s great that top three are doing so well for India. It’s a challenge for the middle order to always be ready to get in and bat. I am sure everybody is up for it, everybody knows the situation. “It’s just one game (the first ODI in Guwahati), I think they bowled really well and it’s just that Virat and Rohit batted brilliantly. They will pose a good challenge in the coming games.”
Kohli and Sharma slammed big hundreds as India, chasing 323, cantered to an eight-wicket win with almost eight overs to spare in the series-opener.