Mayank revels in remarkable start to season

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Published on Sep 15, 2016 06:16 AM IST
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GREATER NOIDA: For two years, Mayank Agarwal would race to 20s and 30s before throwing it away. He had admired Virender Sehwag for his daredevilry, now was the time to master his idol’s consistency.

Agarwal’s 417 runs from eight innings in the last Ranji Trophy had come at an average of 52.12. However, such has been the run glut in Ranji over the years that 78 players scored more than him. He was dropped from the Karnataka team, also the defending champions, after five matches. Frustration was brewing, and Agarwal wanted more out of himself.

“We have a goal for every season. Last season, he couldn’t capitalise after good starts. We decided he should play the ball as late as possible. He always had tremendous hands, so we knew if he is more balanced at the crease, he can generate more power in his shots,” coach RX Murali told HT from Marathalli near Bengaluru.

Chastened by a middling season, Agarwal threw himself into a rigorous 10-hour training schedule. His day would begin with physical training, followed by a three-hour Ranji session. He would then drive over 25km to reach Murali’s academy, where the duo would plot his resurrection.

About 10 years back, an Australia U-16 academy team arrived in Bengaluru to play three two-day games against the KSCA under-16 at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Agarwal made his mark with centuries in all three matches. “What I noticed first was his timing, which was too good for his age. Whenever he played, he scored runs,” said Murali.

In 2010, he made it to the India under-19 team for the World Cup in New Zealand, and in a side that also had KL Rahul, Agarwal emerged as his country’s leading run-scorer.

Six years hence, Rahul has already played eight Tests, and has become just the second man in the country to score centuries in each format.

The same period has also seen Agarwal blossom into a free stroking opener. From the start of 2014 to mid-2015, he was the only batsman in the country to score over 1000 runs in domestic List A cricket. However, his limited-overs’ success and average first-class returns saw him being stereotyped as a short-format specialist, something that the 25-year-old is eager to change.

BRIEF SCORES: India Blue 707 & 179/5D (R Sharma 32*, Yadav 3/62) bt India Red 356 & 161 all out (Gurkeerat S 39; R Jadeja 5/76, K Sharma 3/33).


    Shantanu Srivastava is an experienced sports journalist who has worked across print and digital media. He covers cricket and Olympic sports.

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