Ambati Rayudu has been signed up as a professional by Baroda for the upcoming domestic season. The decks were released after Rayudu received a certificate of no objection from the Andhra Cricket Association. Rayudu is available to play all formats, although in recent years he has mainly made himself available for white ball cricket. He last played a first-class match in November 2017.
Rayudu has traveled quite a bit in domestic cricket in recent times, representing Hyderabad and Andhra and Vidarbha apart from a two-year stint with Baroda from 2012 to 2014. He is now returning to Baroda to bolster the batting division even as Attempts are made to convince Deepak Hooda to return as well.
Hooda, the Indian all-rounder, left Baroda at the end of 2020 after an argument with then-captain Krunal Pandya. Hooda then spent a successful season with Rajasthan culminating in his call-up in India. He has been a regular member of India’s whiteball teams since February of this year. He also had a breakthrough IPL season with Lucknow Super Giants, where he teamed up with Krunal.
“As far as I know, they get along just as well as they did before,” Shishir Hattangadi, the CEO of the Baroda Cricket Association (BCA), told ESPNcricinfo. “They’ve eliminated their differences. They played and excelled together for the same IPL team. They solved all the problems they had.
“While we are hopeful of Hooda’s return, we cannot say for sure as from a cricketing perspective it was Rajasthan who opened their doors to him when he needed a team. For our part, we are doing our best. We will have to wait. on a last call.”
The BCA has also recruited Yusuf Pathan as a mentor to begin with for a period of one year, which he has tentatively accepted under certain conditions. Yusuf’s role spans the wider spectrum of cricket – age groups and senior men and women. He is expected to be actively involved in camps and scouting leading up to the season.
“Baroda is a small unit and the idea is to have someone of Yusuf’s stature to help nurture the talent that comes through,” Hattangadi said. “We have seen that players are not lacking in skills, it is their confidence and mental makeup that needs to be adjusted. We thought Yusuf would be a perfect fit.”
Arun Lal steps down as head coach of Bengal
Arun Lal has resigned as head coach of the Bengal senior team after three seasons. He cited the “taxing” nature of the job as the main reason for his departure.
“It’s a really tough job. Nine months, 24×7 and almost seven months on the road. So I thought it was time to quit before I got kicked out,” 66-year-old Lal said with a laugh. “And Bengalis are doing well, they are on the right track.”
While Lal has enjoyed the full support of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) during his tenure, there have been occasional rumors among players of his “old-school ways”. However, Bengal turned into a formidable force under his watch.
Lal, winner of the Ranji Trophy at Bengal in the 1989-90 season – and twice before that with Delhi – joined the team as a mentor ahead of the 2018-19 season and took over as head coach the following season. Under him, Bengal finished second to Saurashtra in the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy and reached the semi-finals this year, losing to eventual champion Madhya Pradesh.
“The competition has become much tougher,” he said. “Last year’s winners did not qualify for the semi-finals this year. This year’s finalists did not reach the semi-finals last year. Only Bengali made the knockouts both seasons. So they are in a good place.”
“This is a fantastic performance from Bengal and I had a great time. And I will miss it. It is very taxing. But I have to give myself time and I also have interests outside of cricket. The only thing we don’t have is a trophy, but I’m sure we’ll go there.”
The CAB has not yet announced their coaching roster. Saurasish Lahiri, the former Bangladeshi offspinner, is currently an assistant coach while Joydeep Mukherjee is the director of cricket.