Those who have seen him on the telly can say Venugopal Rao has done nothing to shatter the earth. But ask Matt Prior, Simon Jones, and Sajid Mahmood, and they will tell you 500 is not a safe target in the fourth innings of a four-day match when Venugopal is around. Two days before his 22nd birthday, he shot into national contention with an unbeaten 228 for South Zone to help them chase down England A's target of 501, the fourth-highest successful first-class chase. Venugopal had earlier been part of the Indian team that won the Under-19 World Cup in 2000. Prolific run-getting in domestic matches meant he was not far from national selection. Once into the national ODI team, Venugopal has not been quite at home amid the baseballesque hitting on flat subcontinent tracks. He has shown shades of the early Rahul Dravid and Robin Singh. His only half-century was a stodgy unbeaten 61 off 93 balls against Pakistan. With the team management open-minded about trying out a wide pool of talent, Venugopal is still very much in the reckoning despite an ordinary start to his international career. What's more, he has been captaining the A sides and Board Presidents' XIs.
Sidharth Monga (July 2006)