Mayank Agarwal’s perseverance finally pays off with a double ton against South Africa.
"There's no substitute for hard work".
This adage has done the rounds in every sphere of life but in Indian cricket, one batsman has personified that with his unquenchable hunger for runs and a penchant for batting long.
Mayank Agarwal's Test career began with aplomb at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and it has since taken shape wonderfully well culminating in a Test double hundred - also his first 100-plus score - in his first innings at home in Test cricket.
The elegant Karnataka opener had a gruelling time in domestic cricket and had to knock the door down with his performances before getting a chance for India with Prithvi Shaw out injured.
In the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy season, Mayank showed impeccable resilience and resolve and made a 1000 runs in one month, including a triple hundred. The last person to do so in first-class cricket was Bill Ponsford in 1927. Mayank's outrageous run of form which saw him make 2000-plus runs that Ranji Trophy season did not win him a place in the Test squad.
With scores of 304*, 176, 23, 90, 133*, 173 and 104*, Mayank was a superior figure in the domestic circuit that month and showed a penchant for scoring big while extending his stay at the crease for long durations. This was on the back of his long net sessions where he would bat 5-6 hours just to prep himself up for the long grind in Test cricket.
Even in his short Test career so far, Mayank has been visibly composed in his batting performances. After he took to long distance running as part of his fitness routine, Mayank became a beast. Running helped him focus for longer durations and find the strength and resilience to overcome weather conditions and batting for long periods in Tests.
What happened at Visakhapatnam in the first Test against South Africa was a result of his hard grind in first-class cricket. Given a flat day one wicket and an ordinary bowling attack, Mayank made complete use of the golden opportunity.
He gave the first hour to the bowlers, allowed Rohit Sharma to dominate the stand and happily played second fiddle. When the opportunity did come, Mayank scored runs but he was more focused on not getting out on such a wicket.
Eventually the runs would come and it did. He took the spinners on with conviction and milked the fast bowlers for runs. Even when Rohit got out with the score at 317, Mayank wasn't prepared to leave the crease. He converted his maiden Test ton to a double hundred and once again exhibited his penchant for scoring big runs. The senior opening partner in the innings, Mayank's fortitude came on the back of gritting it out in Ranji cricket. Dare we say the first-class grind is a pointless one.
Featured image courtesy: AFP/ Noah Saleem