The 32-year-old has not played for India ever since the ODI series against Zimbabwe in 2016 and it looked like the batsman’s international career was all but over with new youngsters emerging in the last two years.
However, a stupendous individual campaign for IPL champions Chennai Super Kings saw Rayudu being given a recall to the India side for the limited-overs clashes for the tour of England.
According to a report by the Times of India, all of that could now be moot with the batsman in danger of being axed from the squad after failing the compulsory test held at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru.
Similar to the beep test, the Yo-Yo test has been set as the new benchmark for gauging the fitness and stamina levels of Indian players for some time now. Rayudu is the third player to fail the test this season after pacer Mohammed Shami and batsman Sanju Samson had been unable to clear the minimum threshold of 16.1 set by the management.
While Shami had lost out on a place in the squad for the recently concluded Test against Afghanistan, Samson had been dropped from India A’s tour of England.
In 16 matches for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL this year, Rayudu managed to score 602 runs at an average of 43 and a strike-rate of nearly 150.
A Test win inside two days doesn’t really tell you how good a team really is because deficiencies, if any, get swept under the carpet even before they come up for scrutiny.
India dismantled Afghanistan‘s line-up with clinical precision to win the Bengaluru Test by an innings and 262 runs to reinforce their status as the No1 Test team in the world. Centuries from Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay, followed by wickets from all frontline bowlers made it a near-perfect performance from the Indians.
With India’s next big Test assignment being the five-match series in England, we look at three positives India can take from the Afghanistan Test to England.
FORM OF OPENERS
Openers are going to be crucial in English conditions and India need the best available options in as much form as possible. Murali Vijay hardly gets to bat nowadays in pressure situations and he got to play just one match for the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL. Shikhar Dhawan was in fine touch in the IPL for Sunrisers Hyderabad but but red-ball cricket is a different beast and with the left-hander, you never know.
However both batsmen got centuries against Afghanistan on a true surface under overcast conditions, which should count for something. Dhawan scored a century before lunch, underlining his match-winning potential while Vijay got to spend time in the middle, which is just the assurance the Tamil Nadu batsman and the Indian management needed.
PACERS ON TARGET
One of the biggest pluses was the length that Ishant Sharma bowled. The overs behind him in county cricket have helped.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) June 15, 2018
Mohammed Shami, arguably India’s best pacer in all conditions, failed a fitness Test for the Afghanistan Test. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah were rested. Which meant Test specialist Ishant Sharma and and out-of-favour Umesh Yadav led the pace attack against the Afghans.
Ishant was back after a successful stint in county cricket for Sussex while Yadav – who has enough Test experience under his belt – was superb for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL. Both bowed with pace and got movement in the air and off the pitch. Can’t ask for more.
One of the bigger concerns for the Indian management was off-spinner Ravi Ashwin’s decision to switch to leg-spin in the IPL in order to fight his way back into the limited overs set-up. Reports emerged of the management fearing Ashwin would lose his strength in Tests – off-spin – if he continued down that path.
During the IPL, Ashwin went back to off-spin and in the Afghanistan Test, was at his best. Ashwin gave a lot of air to the ball and beat the batsmen with flight. Afghanistan is not a strong batting unit by any stretch of the imagination but watching Ashwin get the ball above the eyeline of batsmen was a sight to behold.
India bowled out Afghanistan twice on Friday as they secured victory by innings and 262 runs. Asghar Stanikzai’s men were shot out for 103 in the final session at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. The second innings lasted just 38.4 overs after the Afghans had been dismissed for 109 in 27.5 overs in their first innings in pursuit of India’s 474.
After the match, Rahane and the Indian team were given the winners’ trophy and India’s stand-in skipper decided to invite the Afghan players to pose with the hosts and the trophy.