Axar, Rayudu make it count

With the World Cup approaching, the two present a strong case for themselves

Axar, Rayudu make it count

For many, the five-match one-day series against Sri Lanka might have lacked in context.

But from India’s perspective, it gave them a good chance to provide extended runs to some fringe players and try out some others in the process of zeroing in on a combination for the World Cup.

Some have exceeded the expectations, and some failed to meet. Here’s then a look in to their outings, and how they stand in their quest to make it to the World Cup-bound squad.

Axar Patel: The left-arm spinner caught everyone’s attention during the 2014 edition of the IPL with thrifty bowling.

The Gujarat man didn’t disappoint once he graduated into the Indian team during the one-dayers against Bangladesh in June.

He has been economical and has taken wickets at crucial juncture. An unwavering focus on stumps and steely nerves are his biggest strength. As a batsman too Axar has been gritty, offering the picture of a complete package.

On Sunday, he gave solid company to Virat Kohli once bigger names in the middle-order squandered their wickets, helping his skipper to take India to a three-wicket win.
Kohli was mightly impressed.

“As a bowler, Axar is very confident. Even if I want to keep seven fielders in the ring, he never says no. He knows how to cramp them for room, even the left-handers. He is not scared at all.

“Now, as a batsman, Axar listens to the experienced players. He astonished me with what he did at Cuttack. Hitting those two sixes off low full-tosses showed a lot of his character. Here (Ranchi), I was with him telling what to do. But at Cuttack he was alone and doing things on his own. If he keeps performing like this then he might be preferred over some others in the batting line-up. You never know when that change comes.”

Ambati Rayudu: The rebellious, insecure youth of the early 2000s has transformed into a more mature individual and cricketer now.

Since his debut, the Hyderabad cricketer has showed urgency to make up for his lost time without exactly compromising on his natural shot-making inclinations. At the JSCA stadium, Rayudu, who came at number three, helped Kohli to milk 133 runs for the third wicket.

He never was hesitant to take the lead role in that partnership during a period when his skipper was focusing more on anchoring the chase.

Kohli gave high marks to Rayudu. “Rayudu showed great composure today. His knock (a fifty) at number three was very important. It was a bit of tricky situation when he came to bat. There is no point in sending these players in easy situations and expect them to score runs just because they are new. It’s better to send them in difficult situations, and once they get runs there, they will become self-assured players. In that sense, Rayudu has responded quite beautifully. Hope he will build on it.”

Stuart Binny: The Bengaluru man has given a good indication of his abilities when he played a match-saving innings in the first Test against England at Nottingham, and while wrecking Bangladesh at Dhaka with the ball. His season only got better when he powered South Zone to the Duleep Trophy final, once again his bowling abilities coming to the fore.

Binny was drafted into the series against Sri Lanka in place of an injured Varun Aaron, and did reasonably well with the ball. At Ranchi, Binny had a fine opportunity to keep himself ahead in the queue.

However, a rather rash shot against Ajantha Mendis that saw him getting stumped by Dinesh Chandimal might just have come at an inappropriate moment. Kohli sitting on his haunches with a shaking head told the entire story.

Robin Uthappa: The Bengaluru man had to wait for a long six years to return to the Indian side. A string of good scores in the domestic matches and in the IPL eventually opened the door for him during India’s three-match one-day series against Bangladesh.

He did make a fifty there, but couldn’t find a place in the subsequent series against the West Indies.

However, another opportunity soon came his way when he was drafted in as a wicketkeeper batsman for the last ODIs against Sri Lanka. At Kolkata, Uthappa just had to support a rampaging Rohit Sharma.

But at Ranchi, an uppish flick ended his stay for 20 when a longer innings could have helped his case further considering that he did an efficient job behind the wickets.

Karn Sharma: Two matches may be a bit harsh to judge a bowler in the ODI format. But the leg-spinner neither has managed to cut the run-flow nor to take wickets so far. He was taken into the side after a tidy effort in the IPL.

But Karn might now have learnt that the distance between IPL and international cricket, even against a listless Sri Lanka, is massive.

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