Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - The survival instincts of Mayank. Mayank Agarwal stroked his fourth Test century
Mayank Agarwal stroked his fourth Test century
In the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy season, he was on the brink of being dropped from Karnataka, his state side. An indifferent 31 against Assam in Mysore followed a couple of ducks against Hyderabad in Shimoga and he was facing an uncertain future in the team.
“He did not inspire confidence and there were discussions about him,” confessed GK Anil Kumar, the assistant coach of the team then.
It required the intervention of the Indian selectors to ensure that Mayank played the next game. The national selectors have a right to instruct the state selectors about a player's selection. MSK Prasad, the national chief selector then, had called up coach PV Shashikanth and Anil Kumar to retain Mayank in the XI.
The trio burnt midnight oil discussing Mayank before reaching the point of consensus on the match eve. Mayank cashed in on that opportunity with a triple century against Maharashtra.
“He was in our radar at that time but the Karnataka management was not confident after those ducks. We had a lot of back and forth that night before Shashi and Anil Kumar confirmed to me that they would include him in the XI the next day. We had the authority to advise the state selectors and we exercised that,” MSK Prasad, the national chief selector, recalled.
Anil Kumar confirmed the incident and added, “Even Mayank was not sure if he would play the game against Maharashtra. After that, I told him to express himself and he would get the full season,” Kumar said.
After 31, 0, 0, his scores that season were 304*, 176, 23, 90, 133*, 173, 134, 78, 15, 3 and he emerged as the highest scorer of the season with 1160 runs at an average of 105. Months later, he went on to play for India.
Fast forward to 2021 and the situation was eerily similar for the 30-year-old opener. A none-too-impressive batting in Kanpur and the return of skipper Virat Kohli had meant that the Indian line-up needed a shake-up for the Mumbai Test, and Mayank was thought to be on top of the ‘casualty list'. But as fate would decree, Ajinkya Rahane's sudden injury presented him with another chance. Characteristically, he grabbed it with an impeccable unbeaten century on the opening day.
So imperious was the knock that he was the only Indian batsman who looked confident against the New Zealand spinner, Ajaz Patel, who claimed all four wickets to fall on a truncated first day's play for India, which included the dismissals of Chetshwar Pujara and Kohli, who were both scalped for nought by an incisive Patel.
The transformation of Mayank from Kanpur to Mumbai was evident on Friday. He has, admittedly, made slight adjustments to his technique, playing the ball more side-on than front-on on. Unmistakably, the majority of his runs came off the off-side, the drives through extra-cover and mid-off regions being his preferred area of scoring.
Essentially a quintessential opening batsman with all the required qualities – technique, patience and aggression – Mayank played an innings that bailed India out after they elected to bat on a pitch that assisted the spinners on Day One.
Realising the turn and bounce, Patel slowed down his pace and exploited the wicket to the hilt, reducing the home team to 80 for three and later to 160 for four. But Mayank stood up to the Patel's threat with effortless elegance. He played with caution initially and then went after the bowlers. His unbeaten 120 can be divided into two parts with first 60 coming in over 140 deliveries and next 60 came much faster, in about 100 deliveries, as he grew in confidence.
Mayank steadied the Indian innings through two sound partnerships, first with Shuhman Gill — 80 runs for the first wicket — and then again put on 80 runs for the fourth wicket with Shreyas Iyer. Currently, he is involved in a 61-run unbeaten association with Wriddhiman Saha.
His two boundaries, one through leg-side and the other through off, in the 47th over off William Somerville stood out, just as a six off the same bowler's previous over. Two consecutive fours off Patel in the 44th over bore the stamp of his authority on the bowler who dominated India, but not as much on the gritty opener. Earlier, he had hammered Patel for two sixes, with good footwork and timing, and one more late in the day.
Mayank's knock has now opened up many permutations in the Indian team and has also ensured his berth in the squad as a third opener. After Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, he will now be the next choice in the South Africa series pushing Gill, who too was impressive on the day, to search for a place in the fragile middle order.