'I cannot describe the feeling'

Beyond everything I have experienced, says Mayank

A couple of weeks ago, Mayank Agarwal passed one of the biggest tests of his career.

It’s not easy for any player to join a side in the middle of a series. Understanding the conditions was just one small part of the problem for the Karnataka batsman. The bigger picture was that India were playing Australia in their own den. And to top it all, Agarwal was set to make his debut.   

But Agarwal shut out all the noise around him, keeping it very simple. In the final two Tests of the four-match series, Agarwal became the man India wanted at the top with his knocks of 76, 42 and 77. 

From a half-century on debut at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground to be the man to ‘lift’ the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after a historic 2-1 win, Agarwal couldn’t have asked for a better start to his international career.  

“I cannot describe the feeling. It’s beyond everything that I have ever experienced. To be there and enjoy a series victory of that magnitude was something else,” Agarwal tells DH

The 27-year-old is back home and is measured as ever as he speaks about playing Test cricket in Australia. Excerpts:  

What was going through your mind on the eve of your debut?  

I was a bit nervous. KL (Rahul) was there with me. We went out to have a coffee and we discussed what was in store for me the next day. He told what the Australians will be looking to do to me. He told me a very important thing about how different things inside the ground are from what is spoken outside. So he helped me to be practical about it all.

You eased into your role despite being on your debut tour...  

Look, I was excited. I told myself that I would rather be a part of the series rather than watching it from outside. I also had a plan. I was carefully watching the matches. I sat and discussed with our batting coach Sanjay Bangar and head coach Ravi Shastri after I joined the team. 

How was it playing in Australia?  

The experience was fantastic. People in Australia really understand cricket and watch it with a lot of passion. What caught my attention was that in the last over before the end of a day’s play, the Australian crowd rallied around their team and encouraged them, putting pressure on us. They are very well versed with the game and I loved the atmosphere. 

You played three crucial innings... 

I felt good that each knock held its own importance. I don’t want to compare the two half-centuries.

At Sydney, I was disappointed that I missed out on a big score – not just a hundred; it could have been more. My plan was to attack Nathan Lyon and it didn’t work out. I’ve learnt a lesson.

Any message from a member of the dressing room that has stayed with you... 

I can’t forget what Virat (Kohli) told me when I received the India cap. He told me ‘not many get a chance to debut at the MCG. It’s a great honour for you. The bigger the stage the bigger the opportunity.’ I also spoke to Ravi sir. He told me ‘you’ve come up the hard way. You’ve come up scoring a lot of runs. Do what you’ve been doing. This is no different.’ So the dressing room was warm and welcoming and that helped me give my best. 

How are you trying to focus on the job ahead amid all the attention? 

As a professional, you have to stick to a process and you have to stick to a method that works best for you. You have to keep doing things that got you where you are now. 

Tell us about your parents’ reaction...

They were indeed tensed. I spoke to them after the first day’s play. It was a dream-come-true moment for them. After congratulating me, they told me ‘look you have done well but now it’s past. Continue to focus on what lies ahead.’ I think that was an important message from them.

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