With a 76 in his debut Test innings as an opener at Melbourne, Mayank Agarwal has given India some respite at the top of the order. Mayank was rushed to Australia after a freak injury ruled Prithvi Shaw out of the series and the under-fire opening pair of KL Rahul and Murali Vijay continue to disappoint the teams and fans.
Mayank ended up at Australia just a few days before his debut Test, jet-lagged and with little time to acclimatise to the conditions Down Under. But he has waited long enough for this opportunity and was perhaps mentally prepared to tackle the Australian bowlers and conditions.
He provided India a platform with make-shift opener Hanuman Vihari to build the innings in the Melbourne Test. It was unlucky he missed out on a ton in his debut Test.
Nevertheless, Mayank has faced enough twists and turns in his career to take this disappointment in stride and look for a bigger score in the second innings and in the fourth Test next year in January.
Mayank Agarwal’s superb Ranji form last season
Mayank was knocking at the door of national selection since last season when he was the highest run-getter in the 2017–18 Ranji Trophy, finishing the tournament with 1,160 runs.
But he almost missed the feat after scoring a pair in his second game in that Ranji season before responding with 304* against Maharashtra in the next. Had not the team persisted with Mayank after the pair, he would not have scripted history and knocked at selectors’ doors.
However, the national selection remained elusive as India went for the trio of Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay and KL Rahul for the series in SA, England before calling Mayank for the West Indies series, but not giving him a game.
IPL stint a big failure for Mayank Agarwal
Meanwhile, Mayank’s superb domestic form got IPL franchises interested and Kings XI Punjab got the Karnataka opener for Rs 1 crore and handed him the opener’s slot. But he failed to translate his success with red ball to IPL, managing just 120 runs in 11 innings.
But he continued to score consistently in domestic cricket to keep the selectors reminding that they have quality back-up openers if Rahul-Vijay pair does not live up to expectations.
Finally, Mayank gets a call-up, but…
Luck smiled when Mayank was drafted in the squad for the West Indies Test series, but Prithvi Shaw walked away with the honours, cracking a century on debut even as Virat Kohli and Co. continued with the struggling Rahul.
And Mayank was back to grind it out in domestic cricket after being excluded from Australia squad as selectors persisted with Rahul-Vijay and the in-form Prithvi for the four-match Test series Down under.
But the turn of events saw Mayank recalled from nowhere and handed his Test debut at Melbourne to replace his Karnataka teammate and good friend Rahul who too has made his debut in Boxing Day Test in 2014.
But can Mayank make it count after enduring a tricky path to international debut?