Ambati Rayudu (L) celebrates with captain MS Dhoni (C) after scoring a century against Sunrisers Hyderabad Image: AFP
Chennai Super Kings captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni heaped praise on Ambati Rayudu for helping his side beat Sunrisers Hyderabad in an IPL match with an unbeaten century, saying he's someone who can score runs equally well against both pacers and spinners.
Opener Rayudu smashed his maiden IPL century, a 100 not out which he made from 62 balls with the help of seven fours and seven sixes, as CSK chased down the target of 180 with one over to spare.
"Even before the IPL started, I had to make space for Rayudu, because he is somebody I rate very highly. He can play both the fast bowlers and spinners very well. Most teams look to exploit the opener with spin bowling. He is someone who doesn't look like a big hitter but almost clears the field every time he plays the big shot," Dhoni said after his side beat Sunrisers by eight wickets.
Even before the IPL started, I had to make space for Rayudu, because he is somebody I rate very highly. He can play both the fast bowlers and spinners very well. MS Dhoni, captain, Chennai Super Kings
Dhoni was, however surprised that the ball did not swing much when his side batted.
"I thought the ball would swing more in the second half than what it did for us. The swing was not there, that was a surprise. We got off to a good start. Watson and Rayudu hit boundaries whenever there was an opportunity. Otherwise, 180 against SRH would have been a tough chase," he said during the post-match presentation.
Talking about the preferred batting order for his side, Dhoni said, "My plan was to make Rayudu open and if Kedar (Jadhav) was fit, he would bat at 4 or 5. We keep the numbers of overs remaining as the mark and we decide the No. 4 batsman based on that."
Man of the Match Rayudu, on his part, said he was enjoying opening the innings.
"It's a good position (opening) to bat in T20s. I am enjoying it right now. There's no secret. I was ready to open. If you are good at 4-day cricket, you can bat at any position," he said.
"I am really happy to be back in the Indian team. Hopefully, I will do well there."
(With inputs from PTI)