Yalaka Venugopal Rao didnt have an answer when his nephew,after watching him in a television commercial for a cola,asked him why he played only a side role.
After over a decade in first class cricket and featuring in 16 One-day Internationals,the last of which he played in 2006,Rao,29,is happy that his 117 runs in three Indian Premier League (IPL) games is getting him unexpected recognition.
Rao hasnt yet been mobbed for autographs by fans and interviews like a Paul Valthaty. Nor is he being labeled as the IPLs poster boy. Quietly,Rao has been reinventing his game during his time with the Delhi Daredevils.
Rao has been striving to become a good finisher. Hes also picking up the art of hitting sixes,one of his objectives going into this season of the IPL.
In this regard,Rao is happy to be sharing the dressing room with Virender Sehwag who has hit 85 sixes in ODIs. Rao has three hits over the ropes in 16 one-day games. However,in this season of the IPL he has hit seven sixes in three games.
Who else other than Sehwag to learn from how to hit sixes. I have hit some already in the IPL this season. Its not only how to hit sixes that I am learning from Sehwag,but I am also talking to him about how he made a comeback to the national side after going through a lean patch. As a skipper he gives you the confidence. He just told me that I was great while playing for for Deccan Chargers. Dont worry I am there to back you. It did great things to my confidence. Rao said.
His 31 off 20,along with Aaron Finchs cameo,helped Daredevils register their first win of the tournament against the Pune Warriors. He made 60 off 40 against the Rajasthan Royals,a game Delhi lost.
I have been doing rather well over the last three years but nobody seems to notice me,thats my biggest problem. But its good that I am getting the attention with Delhi Daredevils and I am really happy to contribute my bit with the new team. I am striving to become a good finisher. You dont need to work on a particular shot to make your mark. Just clean,simple cricket can fetch you the desired results, the Andhra batsman added.
In January,as the players were going under the hammer,Rao was playing a league game in Chennai. When Rao heard that he was bought for $700,000 by the Daredevils he couldnt believe his ears.
On Wednesday,Rao will be up against Deccan Chargers,his former IPL team. Rao said that its just another match as he reinvents himself with the hope of again wearing the revered blue.