Mayank Agarwal was given an Indian T20 League contract at the tender age of 20 and stole the limelight in his debut season with his shot-making abilities in a team filled with star-studded players like Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers and Tillakaratne Dilshan. Known more as a white-ball specialist, Mayank worked extremely hard to show his penchant for the longest and toughest format of the game and here’s how the Karnataka boy has worked his way to the top.
SHADES OF BRILLIANCE EARLY ON
Mayank Agarwal grew up idolising the great Indian opener Virender Sehwag and modelled his playing style according to the dashing opener. Mayank has been a prolific opening batsman since his Under-13 days in Bangalore cricket and was selected in the India Under-19 World Cup squad in 2010. He emerged as the leading run-getter in the competition which featured future cricket stars like Babar Azam and Josh Hazlewood. India failed in the quarter-finals but Mayank impressed one and all. Soon after he was handed over an Indian T20 League contract with his hometown franchise.
Mayank made his Ranji Trophy debut for Karnataka in the 2013-14 season, his T20 debut in 2010-11 and List A debut in 2011-12. A stylish batsman and always the one to look out for, he somehow lacked the big runs in both T20 cricket and the Ranji Trophy. His 20s and 30s were always great to watch but he never seemed to convert them into massive totals which were required to be in contention for national team selection.
LONG-DISTANCE RUNNING AND VIPASSANA MEDITATION
Years had passed and Mayank Agarwal had failed to take the steps required to elevate from Under-19 cricket to the senior team. Mayank found himself stuck in the rat race and his career hadn’t moved to places he had envisaged. He didn’t take the world by storm with his runs in domestic cricket and his white-ball form had also dipped.
He was dropped midway through Karnataka’s trophy-winning season in 2014-15 and lack of fitness was the main reason behind this move. This was a wake-up call for the opener. Since 2015, he has taken to long-distance running and Vipassana, a Buddhist meditation technique he picked up from his father. These have helped him overhaul his career for the better.
2017 – TURNING POINT IN HIS CAREER
The 2017-18 season started and a new and improved Mayank Agarwal took to the field for Karnataka. He started the season with a pair and there were calls to drop him from the team again. It was Karnataka captain Vinay Kumar who fought for him and kept him in the squad for the next match against Maharashtra. It’s against them that he made his career-best 304* and the rest is history.
Since November 2017, he has gone on to smash five first-class scores over 150. He amassed an astonishing 1003 runs in just the month of November, emerging as the highest run-getter in both the Ranji Trophy and the Vijay Hazare Trophy. This sent shockwaves around the country. Despite him piling on the runs consistently in the domestic circuit, he continued to get snubbed for the national selection. Rather than complaining or cribbing, Mayank continued to do what he does best – scoring loads of runs, and waited patiently for his chance at national glory.
START OF HIS TEST CAREER
Mayank Agarwal got his coveted Test cap in India’s tour of Australia at the Boxing Day Test match in the colossal Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in 2018. India were 2-1 up coming into this particular fixture and both their openers had failed in the previous three matches. KL Rahul and Murali Vijay were horrendously out of form while Prithvi Shaw, who was selected ahead of Mayank in the squad, got injured in the practice match leading up to the series. This led to Mayank’s maiden call up in the national team and he grabbed this opportunity with both hands. In just his first match, he scored 76 in the first innings, the highest knock from an Indian debutant in the country and ended the series with 195 runs from two outings at an average of 65.
In five Tests until the home series against South Africa, Mayank had rolled out three fifties without getting to the three-figure mark. He finally achieved that at Vishakapatnam, that too a massive one. It was here that he scored his first double century in international cricket, ending the knock at 215. He didn’t have to wait long before his second double-century came in Test cricket. He just took 12 innings between the two double centuries and bettered the great Don Bradman’s tally of 13 innings between the first two double centuries in world cricket. Only Vinod Kambli has taken fewer innings than him.
His remarkable start got recognition from the ICC as he was selected in the 2019 Men’s Test Team of the Year. Mayank Agarwal has had a dream start to his Test career and it seems like the long wait to find a consistent opener for India in Tests is finally over. Long may he continue to do this and may he be able to translate this form to white-ball cricket one day.
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