How Mayank Agarwal trained for the big stage

RX Murali, Mayank's coach in Bengaluru, used different types of balls and bowlers to fine-tune his ward for international cricket.

Mayank Agarwal with his coach 'RX' Murali.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

When Bengaluru boy Mayank Agarwal examined his bat while walking towards the middle on day one of the Boxing Day Test against Australia, ‘RX’ Murali — his coach — had butterflies in the belly.

After scoring heavily in the domestic circuit and India A set-up, Mayank finally earned his due; better late, than never.

READ | From blows to records, Mayank makes it count

The 27-year-old batted with supreme composure on his debut. He lasted 161 balls — the most among the Indian openers in the ongoing tour — to score 76.  The right-hander received quite an ovation from the 60,000+ capacity crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

A few minutes after Mayank perished to a Pat Cummins short ball down leg, we rang up Murali for a chat. “I have been waiting for this moment (Test debut) for quite a while. He looked confident and very decisive in what he was doing, which is the hallmark of having been in a good atmosphere,” he said.

He discussed how he prepared Mayank over the years by simulating match environment.

Murali used to direct the bowlers in his academy to mix and match — pace, seam and spin — and bowl 500 deliveries to Mayank everyday. “That was a part of our routine. It was all about preparing, physically and mentally, for the international challenges and to become more consistent. The idea was to maintain the focus for a long period of time, which you need at that level. Shot selection and keeping calm is a critical factor,” said Murali, a seasoned coach in the Karnataka cricketing circles.

“Every bowler would have a different action. I would also throw down a few. You face as many balls to get into a phase.”

Different balls, many wickets

Mayank batted against plastic balls, leather balls (old and new), tennis balls of different colours. “I wanted to challenge him so that he responds. Plastic balls have swing and tennis balls have bounce. I made him play on cement, matting wickets as well as artificial turf,” he added.

“That way, you can grow as a player. Ultimately, the batsman has to figure out what works for him and what doesn’t.”

Mayank Agarwal lasted 161 balls for his 76 — the most among Indian openers in the ongoing tour. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

Before Mayank started blooming in first-class cricket, Murali worked on his balance. “He was falling over due to imbalance. It was a process of getting the right position. He is a smart cricketer, so he figured it out. The technique was reformatted,” he said.

ALSO READ | Mayank: ‘I did whatever a player is required to do’

In India A, Mayank had the opportunity to train under Rahul Dravid.

In an earlier interview with Sportstar, Mayank had praised the positive environment created by Dravid in the ‘A’ dressing room.

“All his talks are positive, that’s the best thing about him. He keeps emphasising on the good things that you are doing.”

He clearly imbibed the vibe.