Since November 2019, Ambati Rayudu has been out of action. But he looked in complete touch as he stepped in at No.4 during the IPL 2020 opener against his former franchise, Mumbai Indians, at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, scoring a 33-ball fifty and en route become the season's first half-centurion.
Chennai had gotten off to a horror start in the opener as the new-ball pair of Trent Boult and James Pattinson reduced MS Dhoni's side to six for two. But Chennai's third-wicket partnership of 100-plus runs by Faf du Plessis and Rayudu revived Chennai and stabilised their innings.
Rayudu dealt with the pressure patiently against the new-ball attack on a tricky track to bring up his 19th half-century off 33 deliveries. And did so in style, by shimming down the track and smoking legspinner Rahul Chahar over the cover region for a six. He was eventually dismissed by Rahul for 71 off 48.
Earlier in the evening, Mumbai got off to a promising start with the opening pair adding 46 runs on the board. But quick dismissals at regular intervals helped Chennai to bounce back. Faf's stupendous back-to-back catches near the ropes and Lungi Ngidi's triple strike in the death overs sqw Chennai restrict Mumbai to 162 for nine.
Chennai have failed to beat Mumbai in five of their last meetings and lost six times in their last 16 matches in IPL.