Mayank Agarwal slammed fifties in the Melbourne and Boxing Day Tests to help India to a series win in Australia. (Image credit: Twitter)
The situation confronting Mayank Agarwal in the Australia tour was immense. Agarwal, who was initially not picked in the side for the Tests, was called up as an emergency back-up following Prithvi Shaw’s failure to recover from an ankle injury. In the Melbourne Test, with the series level 1-1, Agarwal was given his debut cap and he was chosen to open the batting with Hanuma Vihari, the first time that India had opened with two new players after a long time. However, Agarwal responded with a brilliant 76 in the first innings and a tough 42 in the second innings as India won the Melbourne Test by 137 runs. In Sydney, Agarwal blasted 77 to confirm his credentials at the top of the Indian batting line-up.
Speaking to PTI after returning home from Test series in which India won for the first time Down Under, Agarwal said he could not have hoped for a better start. “It was (special) to make my debut at the MCG and most importantly, to win the Test series in Australia. We became the first team from the sub-continent to win a series in Australia. There can't be a better start than this,” Agarwal said.
The right-hander’s aggressive batting prompted comparisons with Virender Sehwag, who had revolutionised the way India’s approach to batting would be in the longest format of the game. However, Agarwal brushed aside the comparison, saying, “I am not a fan of comparisons but he is one of the greats of Indian cricket. I just like to go in the middle, give my best and see what comes out of it. Having said that, if I could do even half of what he (Sehwag) did, I will be happy,” Agarwal said.
New Zealand A tour lucky
With Shaw being ruled out of the Australia tour after failing to recover from his ankle injury, Agarwal was playing for India A in the series against New Zealand and said it was sheer luck that he got picked in the side. “I went there with a plan and I am glad it came off for a bit. I thought Australia was a top-class bowling unit. They play their cricket hard and bring out the best in you. You can't pick out a bowler. Everyone was good and you have to be on top of your game to face them. Playing in New Zealand did help a lot. It was a tremendous learning experience. The conditions weren't same but similar to Australia. There was a lot of pace in the wickets and New Zealand A had international bowlers in their line-up. So, it was good that I got to play there before the Australia series,” Agarwal added.
After not being picked in the West Indies series after a brilliant domestic season, Agarwal could have been forgiven for feeling frustrated. However, the Karnataka batsman only feels a sense of gratitude after finally shining on the world stage.
“To be honest, I would just like to say that everyone's journey is different. I cannot compare my journey to somebody else's. There are things which are beyond your control and I don't like to focus too much on them. I am just glad and grateful that I have got to represent the country,” Agarwal said.