Agarwal makes the wait worth it

THE BIG MOMENT: Despite the long wait for the India cap, Mayank Agarwal never lost faith in him. AFP

Moments after Mayank Agarwal received his cap from skipper Virat Kohli, his Karnataka team-mate K L Rahul gave him a tight hug. While he may have been disappointed on losing his spot in the XI, he at least had the comfort of seeing his best friend getting his long-awaited break.

Four years ago, Rahul made his debut at the same MCG on the Boxing Day but he threw his wicket away in both innings playing uncharacteristically audacious shots. Agarwal, known for his aggressive batting, was composed, compact and confident en route to his 76 (161b, 8x4) that helped put India a comfortable 215/2 on the opening day here on Wednesday.          

“It was a tremendous feeling to get the cap,” said a beaming Agarwal after the match. “I had a lot of emotions (running through my mind) when I got the cap and I will cherish it for the rest of my life. It wasn’t easy to get hold of those emotions and focus there but it was needed to be done. I just stuck to my plans and just kept telling myself ‘there is a plan that I have to go through, and I am just going to stick to that.’ Even though it was overwhelming, it was good, and I am happy with the way I started,” he remarked.

Agarwal waited in the wings longer than he should have. Despite over 3000 runs across all formats in the last one and half years, a senior India cap kept eluding him. The youngster, however, didn’t lose faith. While he admitted it was tough to handle the repeated snubs, the right-hander said it helped him a learn a lot in that period.     

“I just want to say that whatever happened and whatever kept happening, I feel very very special now,” he noted. “I am very lucky because I made my debut at the MCG. Every player has to go through scoring runs in Ranji Trophy and doing what he has to do. I did that, and I am very happy about that. And I learnt a lot as well. When you play Ranji Trophy for five years and play in all parts of India, you learn a lot from that. You face different situations, and it’s always a great learning,” he offered.

Before the Boxing Day, the closest Agarwal came to getting into an Indian XI was during the two-Test series against West Indies at home but with the team management favouring Prithvi Shaw and K L Rahul, he had to bide his time again. Australia berth too evaded him in the original squad before an injury to Shaw got him here five days ago.  

“Well, I was very happy when I got picked against West Indies,” Agarwal said when asked about dealing with missed chances. “It was a big moment for me. From then on, it’s not in my hand. Deciding whether I am going to play or not or getting picked or not is not in my hands. But the good thing was that there was a lot of domestic cricket, and a lot of India A games. So, you make sure you go out there and play to your best. Once you keep playing, you know those things don’t keep coming to your mind because you are focusing on that game and trying to win that game for the side.

“You do think about it (missed chances) but then you are a professional and you tell yourself ‘that’s something you can’t control, move ahead, move on and see what’s next for you, prepare for that and once you are in, give your best.”

Indeed, he did!

 

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Agarwal makes the wait worth it

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