Ambati Rayudu's dreams of making a greater impact on India's tour of Zimbabwe suffered a massive blow after the right-hander was ruled out of the remaining games following a muscle injury on 13 July.
The in-form batsman, who played a match-winning knock of 124 runs in the 1st ODI and followed it up with another brisk innings of 41 in the second game, will be replaced by the wicket-keeper batsman Sanju Samson for the remaining matches.
The medical team of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has confirmed that Rayudu pulled his right quadriceps muscles and will require two to three weeks of rehabilitation.
Who is Sanju Samson
The 20-year-old Kerala cricketer rose to prominence following his consistent performances for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League (IPL). His 41-ball 63 for Rajasthan against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the 2013 season of the IPL earned him plaudits from fans and cricketers alike.
Samson was also adjudged the "Best Young Player of the Season" during the IPL in 2013. He followed that up with another fine season during the 2014 IPL. In the same year, Samson proved his mettle during India A's tour of Australia. He smashed 244 runs in his seven innings with two fifties, becoming the highest run-scorer for his side on tour. Samson boasts 1,386 runs in his 21 outings in the first-class games.
Rayudu's injury a blow to India
India's second-string team will undoubtedly miss Ambati Rayudu who has been in sublime form against Zimbabwe. The right-hander, who has been ruled out of the tour due to a muscle injury, struck a career-best unbeaten 124 runs to rescue India in a narrow four-run win against Zimbabwe in the first ODI. If it weren't for him, India would have surely been left red-faced against the minnows. Rayudu continued his fine run in the second ODI with a brisk knock of 41 runs for his side.
Though Sanju Samson appears to be a worthy replacement, India will surely miss the Rayudu's international exposure and form at the No. 3 position. Samson, who's yet to debut for India in ODIs, will be under immense pressure to perform well. Rayudu's composure bolstered with a great sense of maturity has been key to India's top-order. While trying to fill in his shoes, Samson will have to match his injured teammate in the role of India's No. 3 batsman.
India looking to whitewash Zimbabwe
Despite the early jitters in the first ODI, Ajinkya Rahane's men have been convincing while playing against Zimbabwe in the three-match series so far. The second-string team survived a scare to register a four-run win in the 1st ODI, courtesy Ambati Rayudu and Stuart Binny. The team improved on their mediocre performance in the second ODI with a much-more convincing 62-run win in the second game. Having won the series 2-0, India will be looking to inflict more misery on Zimbabwe as they eye a series whitewash going into the third and final ODI on 14 July.