India middle-order batsman Ambati Rayudu has announced his retirement from all forms of cricket following his exclusion from India's squad for the ongoing ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019.
Rayudu, who last played for India in the home series against Australia in March this year, decided to hang up his boots on Wednesday, 3 July. The move comes after he was overlooked for the World Cup yet again, first when India's selectors named the original 15-man squad for the tournament, and then after injuries struck Shikhar Dhawan and Vijay Shankar. Though he was a part of the reserves named by the BCCI for the tournament, BCCI's selectors replaced Dhawan with Rishabh Pant, and Vijay with Karnataka batsman Mayank Agarwal.
In a letter addressed to the Hyderabad Cricket Association that was forwarded to the BCCI, Rayudu said: "I would like to bring to your kind notice that I have come to the decision to step away from the sport and retire from all forms and levels of the game. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the BCCI and all the state associations that I have represented, which include Hyderabad, Baroda, Andhra and Vidharbha.
It has been a wonderful journey of playing the sport and learning from every up and down it brought for the last 25 years at various levels.
"I also would like to thank the two IPL franchises MI [Mumbai Indians] and CSK [Chennai Super Kings] for their support. It has been a honour and privilege to have represented our country. I would like to thank the captains i have played under - MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma and, especially, Virat Kohli, who always had shown great belief in me throughout my career with the Indian team.
"It has been a wonderful journey of playing the sport and learning from every up and down it brought for the last 25 years at various levels. Finally, I would like to thank my family and all the well-wishers who have been with me throughout this wonderful journey."
Rayudu, who led India at the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2004, a contingent that also featured future international cricketers Dhawan, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik and Robin Uthappa, made his international debut in the away ODI series against Zimbabwe in 2013. It wasn't until his successful tour of England in 2014, however, that he got a long run in the ODI team. He played 14 matches in the build-up to the 2015 World Cup and was eventually selected in the 15-member squad, but never got a chance in the playing XI.
Rayudu became an irregular feature of the national set-up thereafter, but continued to score runs in first-class cricket and in the IPL, where he was a part of Mumbai's victorious campaigns in 2013, 2015 and 2017. He was later roped in by Chennai for the 2018 season, where he powered the MS Dhoni-led side to their third title win, finishing with 602 runs.
Those exploits earned him a place in the Asia Cup squad in UAE, and later in the home series against West Indies, where he earned the approval of his captain Virat Kohli, who called him the best fit for the much-debated No.4 position.
"Rayudu has taken his chance with both hands. We need to back him till the 2019 World Cup. He reads the game well, so we are happy that someone intelligent is batting at No.4," Kohli had said after Rayudu's 81-ball century in the fourth ODI against West Indies in October 2018."
However, a subsequent dip in form in the home series against Australia resulted in his exclusion from India's World Cup squad.
Rayudu scored 1,694 runs in 55 ODIs at an impressive average of 47.06, with six hundreds. He played just six T20Is, in which he made 42 runs, but never got a chance to represent India in Test cricket.