Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle ––Abraham Lincoln
Talk of numbers across cultures! What Nelson (111, 222…) is to English cricket, 87 is to the Aussies. Down Under, they call it ‘The Devil’s Number’ because it’s 13 — ah, we can relate to that — short of a century.
On Wednesday, it was an Indian who perished on 87 against — you guessed it right — the Australians. Fresh from a typically flamboyant and dominating hundred against Mumbai in the Irani Cup last week, Ambati Thirupathi Rayudu delivered the goods yet again, this time for the Board President’s XI. His entertaining knock (150 balls, 9x4, 3x6) shall serve as a timely reminder to the selectors who chose to ignore him for the first two Tests.
Rayudu tackled Peter Siddle, James Pattinson and Jackson Bird with caution before milking the far weaker spin quartet of Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith and Ashton Agar.
Maxwell was on a high after plucking a blinder to send back Robin Uthappa (21) and having Parthiv Patel (22) leg-before. But Rayudu brought the off-spinning all-rounder down to earth by smashing him for back-to-back sixes — over long-on and straight down the ground. He also brought up his fifty with a maximum, dancing down the wicket and lofting the wayward leg-spinner Smith to long-off.
Rayudu did find an able ally in Parvez Rassol (36) and the duo added 67 runs after BP XI were tottering on 132/6. Rassol did his reputation of being an all-rounder no harm. If his seven-wicket haul exposed the Aussies on Day One, his quickfire but sensible batting frustrated them on Wednesday.
Rassol’s dismissal kind of hurried Rayudu. He was desperate to get his ton and made his intentions clear. He executed an audacious upper cut to move from 75 to 79 and, in the process, made Siddle look pedestrian. Sachin Tendulkar would have been proud of that shot! A few overs later, he went for one biggie too many and skied Moises Henriques (4/12) to mid-off.
“I want to thank Robin Singh and Sanath Kumar,” Rayudu said. He refused to get drawn into a debate on how he’s got a raw deal over the years. He claims a fancy tattoo — that of a pigeon — on the neck has had nothing to do with him being ‘calmer’ and ‘at peace’ these days. Pity he won’t be playing the three-day game involving India ‘A’ and the Australians.
Henriques struck off his second delivery by having Mandeep caught behind. Three overs later, the medium-pacer got one to nip back in and disturb skipper Abhinav Mukund’s off-stump. Rayudu was his third scalp and tail-ender Sarabjit Ladda his fourth. Have figures of 9.3-3-12-4 (and 16 with the bat) helped him leapfrog spinning all-rounders Maxwell and Smith in the race for that No 7 slot? Looks like.
Back to Rayudu and one only hopes he is not made to wait any longer. Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and Manoj Tiwary are prime examples of batsmen who were never given that Test cap when in supreme form. Let’s hope Rayudu doesn’t join this dejected bunch.
Brief Scores: Australians 241 & 14/0 drew with BP XI 230 in 68.3 overs (A Rayudu 87, P Rassol 36; M Henriques 4/12, N Lyon 3/69)
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