Ever since Virender Sehwag happened to Indian cricket, his impact on upcoming openers in the country was immense. Some modelled their technique around him while most of them wanted to mould their style of play on similar lines. Mayank Agarwal belongs to a blend of these two categories. From his early teenage days, there was immense adulation for strokeplay and elegance that he brought to the table. A stellar performance in the U19 World Cup saw him hog the limelight for the first time and although India were disappointing in the tournament, there was a lot of hope around this man’s future.
Mayank started off his domestic career in the T20 format initially in 2010, due to his dashing batsmanship and the IPL contract happened in 2011. Things were happening at a brisk pace for him and it was only a matter of doing the right things from there on. However, the performances were underwhelming to say the least in the IPL while on the domestic front, the numbers were better albeit still nowhere near his true potential. There were flashes of his caliber in display everywhere but also the frustration when he would inevitably throw away a start. Nevertheless, his white-ball game was definitely showing a steady progress.
In the 2014-15 season, Mayank got plagued with fitness issues as the management was clearly not happy with his physique. The result was more focus on training and this in turn apparently helped him up his mental game as well. Trim and in shape, Mayank seemed confident than ever before but it required a career-changing season from somewhere to spike his path forward. That happened in the 2017-18 Ranji Season when he simply went berserk, plundering over a 1000 runs and went on to top the run charts. It was a phenomenal transition to his red-ball game and needless to say, the confidence oozed into the white-ball tournaments where he was already on the rise.
All these performances didn’t go unnoticed as he got picked up by the Kings XI Punjab at the 2018 IPL auctions. Many feel that the 2017-18 domestic season may have finally seen the coming of age of Mayank Agarwal. Although in this day and age, competition for spots in the Indian team, particularly in batting gets way too tough, a call up will definitely happen. More so considering the value given to domestic performances by the national selectors in the recent past. However, a one-off season won’t do for Mayank, he has to keep the good work flowing and a good IPL season may help.
IPL – Through the years
What do you do when you face the great Muttiah Muralitharan for the first time? A 20-year-old Mayank Agarwal slog-swept him first ball for a six on IPL debut playing for his home franchise – Royal Challengers Bangalore – in 2011. That’s how the flamboyant Karnataka top-order batsman announced his arrival to the IPL arena. An aggressive batter, Agarwal was never afraid to go after the bowlers – even against the best in the business. He notched up his maiden fifty (at a strike-rate above 200) against a strong Mumbai Indians’ Lasith Malinga & Co, a knock which comprised six fours and four sixes. Despite possessing most of the attacking shots, one thing that’s been missing from Agarwal is consistency. It took him close to three years to register his second IPL half-century.
Mayank Agarwal represented Delhi Daredevils from 2014-2016, with his second year being the most productive for the franchise. Ahead of the 2017 season, he was traded to Rising Pune Supergiant, but he took part in just three matches and was dropped from the playing XI on the back of poor outings. Following his incredible domestic season, Kings XI Punjab roped in Agarwal during the 2018 IPL Auction. However, he couldn’t translate that success in the cash-rich league as he amassed just 120 runs in 11 matches.
Post IPL 2019
With Indian skipper Virat Kohli insisting that the performances of players playing in the IPL wasn’t going to be considered in picking the World Cup squad, despite Mayank’s mediocre outing for KXIP, he got rewarded purely based on merit and boarded the flight to the United Kingdom as Vijay Shankar’s replacement for the later half of the tournament. Shikhar Dhawan’s injury meant that KL Rahul was pushed up the order to open the batting with Rohit. Although Rahul had unconvincing numbers at the top, the team management persisted with him for the Semi-Final against New Zealand – which saw the Kiwis emerging victorious in a tense clash. As a result, Mayank Agarwal’s hopes of donning the Blue jersey was quelled for the time being.
But that didn’t deter Mayank from scoring runs in the longer format. After a quiet West Indies tour, he was back to his indomitable best in the home series against South Africa. The opener racked up 340 runs – which included a century and a double ton – in the three Tests and was also the second leading run-scorer for India in the series behind Rohit Sharma.
Mayank didn’t stop there. With the hosts wrapping up the third Test in 4 days, Agarwal dashed back to Bangalore to join his Karnataka team for the Semi Final of the Vijay Hazare Trophy. The right-hand batsman dazzled against Puducherry with an unbeaten 33-ball 47 cameo helping his side chase down a target of 224 comfortably. In the final too, ‘Monk’ as he’s fondly called among the Karnataka camp contributed for his team with a stunning knock of 69* and Karnataka pocketed the coveted Vijay Hazare Trophy for the fourth time via the VJD method. With Rahul’s form deteriorating, Mayank has put his case forward for the selectors as the third-choice opener for India in the shorter formats