Mayank Agarwal: ‘Virat told me to try and score big’

The India opener is pleased to have converted his maiden Test century into a double. “I am extremely happy. It is a feeling I can’t describe,” he says.

Big moment: Mayank Agarwal played doggedly in the soul-sapping Visakhapatnam heat to score a double-century.   -  K. R. Deepak

Mayank Agarwal had to wait a while to earn his first India cap but when he got the chance he made the most of it.

The opener made a confident 76 on Test debut at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, before racking up an attacking 77 in the fourth Test as India completed a historic series victory Down Under. He scored frequently and freely as India romped to ascendancy here. His innings was the perfect blend of caution and aggression. There was the odd bludgeoning for T20 fans and the blunting for Test connoisseurs.

AS IT HAPPENED

“Once I got past the 100, it eased a few nerves. We had spent a lot of time batting on that wicket, so we knew how the pitch was playing. The aim from thereon was to take the game forward,” Agarwal later said.

‘Extremely happy’

“I am extremely happy. It is a feeling I can’t describe. Glad that I could make my maiden hundred into a double. I am happy with the way I played, I am batting well and if we can keep batting together like this upfront, it will be great for the team,” he added.

During the 2017-18 season, where he amassed over 2,000 runs across formats, Mayank batted like a man possessed. On Thursday, he put the South African bowlers to the sword in ruthless fashion, during a marathon knock that lasted a little over eight hours.

IND vs SA | DAY TWO REPORT

Asked how he manages to spend so much time at the crease, Mayank said, “Before that (2017-18) season, my coach R. X. Murali sir and I trained very hard. We used to bat six hours daily — first for two and a half hours, then a small break and then for another two and a half. I am also used to doing a lot of long-distance running... That helps me a lot.”

‘Try and score big’

Agarwal, who became the first Indian opener since Virender Sehwag to score a double century said captain Virat Kohli’s message had helped him turn the start into a big score. “Even yesterday when I was batting in the eighties, Virat told me to try and score big. And today, when he walked out to bat, I was batting on 100-plus ... His message was the same — convert it into a big total,” Agarwal revealed.

India head coach Ravi Shastri, a day before the Melbourne Test, had told Agarwal that he had come into the team scoring a lot of runs in domestic cricket and that ‘this was no different.’

The right-hander paid heed to his coach’s advice and batted doggedly, in the soul-sapping Visakhapatnam heat, to drive South Africa’s bowlers into dust.