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Rayudu working on backfoot game for ODIs in Aus

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CHENNAI: Ambati Rayudu has always been a man of a few words and loves to let his bat do the talking. Since he made his comeback to the Indian ODI side in the Asia Cup last September, Rayudu has made most of the opportunities coming his way. After scoring 175 runs at an average of 43.75 in six Asia Cup matches, he followed it up with another strong performance in the West Indies series at home, finishing with 217 runs at an average of 72.33.

Despite the success, Rayudu wants to remain firmly rooted to the ground. He is now busy in his preparations to take on the formidable Australian attack at their own backyard. “Playing international cricket is itself a challenge and Aussie bowlers are in prime form. So I am preparing in the best way possible. I am trying to work on improving my backfoot game in order to handle the bounce on their lively pitches,” Rayudu said at the launch of the fifth edition of Junior Super Kings on Friday.

At 33, Rayudu might not be a long-term prospect for India but his form has come at the right time ahead of the World Cup next year. Captain Virat Kohli has been looking for an ideal No. 4 batsman for a while now and it seems he has found his answer in Rayudu after the likes of Dinesh Karthik, Manish Pandey and KL Rahul returned with moderate success. The right-hander can dig in when the top-order is dismissed quickly and can also accelerate the scoring if the top-three provide India with a platform. Kohli too has backed the Hyderabad batsman and wants to give him a longer rope.

Rayudu feels the backing of a captain gives a player confidence. “I am not looking at any batting position as such. I am not really thinking too far (World Cup) too. MS Dhoni (at Chennai Super Kings) and Virat have shown the belief in me and I want to do justice to it. When the captain backs you, it removes the pressure from your shoulders and it helps me to bat aggressively with a lot of confidence,” Rayudu asserted.

Rayudu’s career has been a roller-coaster ride, sprinkled with a few injuries. In a bid to preserve his aging body, he has retired from first-class cricket last month. Asked whether the lack of match-practice is affecting his training for the Australia series, Rayudu said: “I am 33 and I had a knee injury in the past. So I try to preserve my body as much as possible. Definitely I do miss out on match practice. But then, there is a huge amount of difference in the way we shape up for red ball and white ball cricket. I am trying to compensate it by playing other games,” Rayudu said.

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