Agarwal played to his strengths, says coach

Agarwal played to his strengths, says coach

RX Murali

There was immense expectation from Mayank Agarwal when he walked out to bat at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday. For his coach R X Murali, to see his ward donning the Indian colours for the first time and stepping into one of the iconic cricket venues in the world was a surreal experience. 

"For a boy who has put in so much hard work and for someone who has gone through so much of highs and lows in his career, to see him just getting down the stairs and walking into the ground was a moment I can't describe. I felt 'wow'. So many memories rushed through my mind, those phone calls, when his voice cracked while speaking of poor form and many other close conversations between us, everything just filled my eyes. I know what he has gone through and today I am extremely happy," Murali told DH.  

On the eve of his debut, Murali could sense something special was on the cards. He could feel Agarwal ready for the task with a right frame of mind. "He first told me that most of the support staff was happy with his batting in the 'nets'. He told me that he was getting into good position and hitting the ball well. Of course, he was a little nervous. He told me that his team-mates had accepted him well," said Murali. 

En route to his 161-ball 76, Agarwal exhibited good focus and composure. The Aussie pacers tried to ruffle him with bouncers but Agarwal put a price on his wicket by duly ducking under them. "Agarwal's ball selection has got better. He is building his innings around his strength. He didn't go for shots that he isn't comfortable with. Today, he never attempted a pull shot despite the bouncers hurled at him. He is very clear inside his mind and that's been his strength in recent times," Murali offered. 

Agarwal was disappointed to have missed out on a ton but the 27-year-old was thrilled with the atmosphere at the MCG. "We spoke after the day's play and he told me 'sir I just can't explain. I felt like a gladiator walking into the colosseum.' He has totally enjoyed the experience. He told me he loved the mind games and the words from the pacers. Of course, he was disappointed to have missed out on a big one. But it's part and parcel of the game," Murali said.