August 2002, India U19 team touring England were playing the third and the last one day match at Taunton. India were already leading the series 2-0 and were favourites to make it 3-0. England batted first and set a daunting target of 304 runs for the Indian boys. In those days a target of 300 plus almost guaranteed a victory for the side batting first and when India were reduced to 135/6 it seemed that the result would be no different. Adversity is also a great opportunity and thus it was for a young boy from Andhra Pradesh. He batted with the composure of a seasoned player of highest quality and manoeuvred the strike masterfully playing with the lower order batsmen. He won the game for India single handedly by pulling Kyle Hogg for six over square leg. India won by one wicket and a new star was born.
Overnight 16 year old Ambati Rayudu became a star and was hailed as “ The next Sachin Tendulkar “ in the waiting. Its one thing getting a great start, absolutely another sustaining it. Rayudu soon found himself in the midst of on-field controversies and disputes with local cricket boards suddenly turning him into the bad boy of Indian Cricket. In 2007 he was banned by BCCI for joining the rebel ICL (Indian Cricket League). His contemporaries Robin Uthappa, Suresh Raina, Robin Uthappa, Irfan Pathan, RP Singh, Dinesh Karthik, Shikhar Dhawan and VRV Singh who played under him in U19 cricket went on to represent India but Rayudu was consistently ignored in spite of consistent performances in domestic cricket. In 2009 however BCCI and Rayudu called truce and but it took him another 4 years to play for India when he was called for the Zimbabwe tour in 2013.
Talent needs opportunity to blossom into a relentless force and the opportunity needs to beckon at the right time for the player to show a full vista of talent. Sachin Tendulkar would have been a different player had he got an opportunity at 23 but then he was destined to be Sachin Tendulkar and not just any other player. Not that Tendulkar was always consistent in his initial years but he was persisted keeping in view his potentially enormous talent and it ultimately paid off.
When Harbhajan was showering expletives at Rayudu for his failed attempt to save four it was not just that one particular incident but years of frustration and the feeling of being ignored which took over and galvanized Rayudu to scathe Harbhajan with a vengeance. Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some are forcibly made to achieve greatness. It is baffling how a player like Robin Uthappa has struggled to make to the Indian side even after astounding performances in domestic cricket whereas Rohit Sharma was persisted for years even after being horribly inconsistent. True Rohit too has enormous talent but he stretched the patience of the captain and selectors to the hilt before coming good in recent years. Why some are persisted with whereas others don’t ? We probably would be able to find the answer of this question when we know why some are just lucky whereas others aren’t.