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Letting go of the fear of failure is very important: Centurion Mayank Agarwal at Bangalore LitFest

Mayank Agarwal scored his second double century in the first Test against Bangladesh today at Indore. After losing Rohit Sharma early yesterday, Mayank took a back seat, letting Cheteshwar Pujara take the attack to the opposition.

Bangladesh bowled well to dismiss Pujara and Virat Kohli cheaply today morning. Mayank dug in, took the attack to the spinners after seeing off the fast bowlers. He built a steady partnership with Ajinkya Rahane to bring up his century in the post-lunch session.

The centurion was selected as the Wisden India ‘Cricketer of the Year‘. It was announced during the release of “Wisden India Almanack 2019-20” at the Bangalore Literature Festival last Sunday.

Mayank, who participated in a panel discussion with Sharda Ugra, Nandan Kamath and Simon Taufel, talked extensively about his cricketing journey so far.

Here are a few excerpts from the discussion with Nandan Kamath:
Tell us about your initial love for cricket and when did you take it seriously?

I was playing a lot of matches during my school days. And I missed exams and classes whilst playing cricket. That was the whole point for me to play cricket.

Later I got selected for the U19 team, but it was during my XII class exams. My dad wanted me to write exams and try cricket the next year. I didn’t want to. It was a preparatory camp and I wanted to participate badly. I clearly told him that there is no way I am missing such an opportunity for anything else in my life. Eventually, I wrote the exams the subsequent year.

In Shimoga, October 2017  you scored a pair against Hyderabad. Cut short to December 2018, a debut at MCG. Tell us about that journey.

That was the time when I felt, I had hit rock bottom. The fear of what might go wrong was with me. At that moment, I felt that it was ok. I was just telling myself to let go of the fear of failure. I was a kind of person, whom, if I look in the mirror, I cannot accept the fact that I haven’t played for India. Letting go off that was very important for me. Later, all I wanted to do was to enjoy my cricket and score runs and thankfully it helped.


You had a dream debut at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the ‘Boxing day’ Test. Talk us through that moment.

I have dreamt of making my debut. Everyone visualises their dream. But, when it happened, the reality was far different from what I dreamt. Luckily, we batted first so that I need not have to wait for my time to get into the match. It all happened so quickly. We won the toss; I padded-up and went for the national anthem. I was waiting in the Tunnel there at MCG with (Hanuma) Vihari, looked up to see 80,000 fans roaring for the match to start. It was huge and very different from the dreams. Looking back, I would take that any day.

And the way you attacked Nathan Lyon was fascinating to watch.

You have to create a zone to make things happen the way you want. In cricket, as everyone knows there’s only a split second to make a decision. Attacking Nathan Lyon was a plan, I wanted to put him under pressure right from ball one. I am glad that it worked. It could have gone either way, you know. I was the guy, who’s making my debut and I could have gotten out playing an attacking shot and everybody would have jumped into conclusions about me being a brash batsman playing reckless cricket. So, it is good that it worked.

You have made your debut, scored a double hundred in the series against South Africa. So what lies ahead for you?

What lies ahead? This is something that I have learnt from Rahul Dravid. Some time back, I had a chat with Dravid sir and he emphasised about the longevity of the sporting career. Making a good debut and scoring runs is one thing. Doing it for 10-15 years at the highest level is another. If I can take one step at a time towards that and hopefully do well along the way, that would be the place I would like to be.

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