On Day two of the first Test between India and South Africa at Vishakhapatnam, Mayank Agarwal brought up his maiden century. He didn’t stop there. He went on to convert it into a double-century. Mayank is the first Indian Opening Batsman to make a double century on debut in India. Is it a fairy tale story? Definitely not.
After winning the 2011 world cup, Ashish Nehra went under the radar of the selectors. He worked hard and played every opportunity he got. On the back of a good IPL season, he made a comeback after 5 years in 2016 in T20Is. He was a regular in the T20I team until he retired in October 2017. When Ashish Nehra hung his boots from international cricket, he kept reinstating on one thing. “Mehnat Kabhi kharab Nahi jati”(Hard work never goes unrewarded).
You have to believe that, especially when it comes from a fast bowler who had an international career span of 18 years for India. Here is a young man, who is living up to this mantra. And he is setting an example for the young kids who want to chase their dreams.
Mayank Agarwal made his Test debut on the eve of Boxing Day Test at Melbourne as an injury replacement. For an occasion as big as the Boxing Day, he looked composed and unflustered by nerves, though he said otherwise after the innings. He was probably the most compact, confident-looking batsman on the first day until he got out eventually. After three innings, his scores read 76, 42 and 77 respectively. Not once, did he look out of place in that Test series.
It wasn’t a cakewalk for him into the Indian team. Over the past two years, he has been piling up runs irrespective of the format and team he played. Be it for Karnataka in Ranji Trophy and Vijay Hazare trophy or the India-A tours, he kept scoring like a beast. He scored 1160 runs in 13 innings at an average of whopping 105.5 in the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy. He scored 723 runs in 8 innings in Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Mayank scored 2141 runs across all formats in the calendar year. If that’s not enough he scored runs in foreign conditions as an opener during the India-A tours as well. He had a mediocre IPL season with Kings XI Punjab. He was overlooked for KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan due to the form they showed in the IPL for England Tour in 2018.
It should have been frustrating for Mayank, but he didn’t stop there. He kept scoring runs in the India-A tours and domestic cricket as well. Again Prithwi Shah was selected ahead of him post-England tour for the Home series against the West Indies.
After a couple of ordinary performances, both the openers got dropped and Mayank was flown in straight away. With him being the only specialist opener in the eleven, he looked the readiest batsman. He played one of the fluent innings by an Indian opener after a very long time. India won the Melbourne Test. The openers laid the foundation helped Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara to build the innings.
The limited-overs team though is a more settled one for India. Mayank understood the reality and worked on what’s in offer. In the past 24 months, he has scored 1747 runs in 31 innings at an average of 58.23 and strike rate of 105.75 with 7 centuries and 6 half-centuries in List A matches.
Mayank literally broke down the selection door for himself to get into the star-studded Test squad. He did it by scoring runs day in and day out, which by all means is setting an example for so many young talented batsmen in the domestic circuit.
He is setting the benchmark for all the youngsters in our country. Keeping doing all the hard work in what you have. When the time comes, the hard work will be rewarded. And the day he becomes a regular in both ODIs and Test cricket is not too far.
Like Nehraji said, “Mehnat kabhi karab nahi jaati”.