Mayank Agarwal has earned his maiden call-up to the Indian national team for the two-Test series against West Indies, which commences on October 4 in Rajkot.
The 27-year-old has been in splendid form for the past couple of seasons, knocking on the doors of the Indian team with his match-winning performances, especially for Karnataka in the domestic circuit. However, the right-hander was made to wait, seemingly endlessly.
How did he respond to the delay? Agarwal kept at it, continued to pile on the runs, and amplified the intensity of those knocks on the national selectors’ doors.
Deeply humbled with all the wishes that have been pouring in. Will continue to persevere, work hard and make everyone who has supported me through this journey proud. It’s an absolute honor to have a chance to represent my country. Thank you so much. 🙏🏼
— Mayank Agarwal (@mayankcricket) September 29, 2018
Agarwal worked hard through the last 15 months, racked up more than 2000 domestic runs, broke batting records, and ultimately, the selectors couldn’t look away any more.
His touch took on ominous proportions in August 2018 for India A against South Africa A, when he scored a 250-ball 220* at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. He stitched a 277-run opening stand with Prithvi Shaw, attracting attention with his free-flowing and elegant stroke play.
He followed it up with a fabulous century for India B against India A, showing off his rich vein of form with a 114-ball 112.
Agarwal did not throw in the towel in disappointment. Instead, he went back to the drawing board and the results were – 1160 runs at an average of 105.45 in the (first-class) Ranji Trophy, 723 runs at 90.37 in the (List A) Vijay Hazare Trophy and three half-centuries in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament.
Rahul Dravid, head coach of the India A and India Under-19 teams, played an integral role in the young batsman’s development. It is no surprise that he was one of the first people Agarwal credited after being drafted into the Test squad.
“Rahul bhai told me to focus on what I can control and to be in the present. He told me if I keep performing then what is bound to happen will happen. I always believed that hard work would pay finally,” Agarwal told The Indian Express.
“He told me that I have a good work ethic and when someone like Rahul bhai tells you that you are going in the right direction it means a lot. Everyone needs someone senior as a guide and I am thankful that he was there for me.”
With India’s regular openers Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan struggling to cement their spots in the playing XI, Agarwal has a real chance of extending his sojourn with the national team, with Shaw and KL Rahul the other options.
If he announces himself in the world stage with impressive performances against the West Indies, he might just find more opportunities coming his way in what promises to be a hectic season for India in Test cricket.