Swansong for India cricketer Venugopal Rao
Venugopal Rao was only the second Andhra player after MSK Prasad, who was the then wicketkeeper-batsman and the current selection committee head.
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He was once considered a promising batting talent and played a few games for India as well. He also played consistently well in India’s domestic circuit and also played 65 games for various franchises in the Indian Premier League. Y Venugopal Rao finally decided to hang up his boots on Tuesday after playing the game for 19 years. He last played in competitive cricket in October 2017 and felt he could have played more.
Rao, who is more fondly known as ‘Venu’ in the cricketing circles, captained Andhra in Ranji Trophy and played 16 ODIs for India between 2005 and 2006. His debut came under the captaincy of Rahul Dravid and it was against Sri Lanka in Dambulla in 2005.
It was less than a year for the man at the highest stage though as he played his final ODI against the West Indies at Basseterre in May 2006. He scored 218 runs in the 50-over format at an average of 24.22. He scored only one fifty during his tenure and it was a 61 not out against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi in 2006. It happened to be his third last game.
Second player after MSK Prasad to play for India
Rao is the second player to represent India in international cricket from Andhra after MSK Prasad, a former wicket-keeper and currently the chairman of the selection committee. He also played for Gujarat and Rajasthan in Ranji.
Born in Vishakhapatnam in 1982, Rao was one of the key players who contributed to make Andhra a force in domestic cricket and did consistently well in various prestigious domestic tournaments. He played in 121 First-Class and 137 List A games and besides scoring over 11,000 runs in those two, also bagged 119 wickets (53 in First-Class and 66 in List A) with his off-break bowling and even took a five-wicket haul.
One of his high points in batting was scoring 228 not out for South Zone against England A in a Duleep Trophy game in Gurgaon which helped his team chase a mammoth 501. Rao, who was also known to be a decent fielder, became a TV commentator in Telugu later.