Mayank's mental discipline adds value to team, says coach

Mayank Agarwal's long wait for an national team call-up came to an end when he was picked for the Test series against West Indies and his coach believes it was about time.

Mayank Agarwal scored 375 runs in three A Test matches against South Africa this home season. (File photo)   -  G.P. Sampath Kumar

Karnataka opener Mayank Agarwal, despite his 1171 runs in the 2017-18 season and 375 in three A Test matches against South Africa this home season, has had to endure an arduous wait for an India call-up. 

But on Friday, Mayank's long wait came to an end when the selectors picked the team for the Test series against West Indies. The 27-year-old has been included in the squad for the two Tests to be played in Rajkot from October 4 to 8 and Hyderabad from October 12 to 16. 

"It [Selection] was long awaited, so he was pretty ecstatic about it," 'RX' Murali, Agarwal's batting coach, tells Sportstar.

READ | Kohli to lead India in Tests, Mayank makes cut

"One good thing was he kept getting runs, so he was in a great frame of mind. All he could do then was sit and wait. Selection is not in his hands, but batting well is — he did what he had to do to keep his spirits high," he adds. 

Despite having a settled core of Test openers in Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan and K.L. Rahul, India's top-order collapse in the England series and dismal outings for Vijay and Dhawan in particular, have created an opening for the likes of Mayank. 

 

"There's a different way of looking at things. Yes, this Indian team has great batsmen, but if you don't believe that you can create magic, then you shouldn't be playing. This is what he (Mayank) believes in. 

"Even with this Indian line-up, you never know when someone could fall out of form. You've to be ready at all times and jump in when an opportunity presents itself. He has been scoring runs for the past 11 months; he needs to keep at it irrespective of who he's playing," Murali points out.

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The current Indian team — especially in ODIs and T20s — is on the lookout for players who can be flexible in terms of their batting positions. Does that put Mayank, who likes to play as an opener, at a disadvantage?

"He can be flexible too," Murali argues. "It's all about the mindset. If you want to be playing at the international level, and if there's an opening in the middle order, he can definitely do it. It's just some small changes in his game plan and he'll be up for it. In fact, he did bat at No. 4 in a few IPL matches for Kings XI last IPL."

The right-hander has been working closely with the former Karnataka U-19 coach and has, in the past, attributed his stellar scoring ability to his childhood mentor. Asked what Mayank's biggest strength is, he says, "It'll be his mental discipline. Secondly, he's hardworking and humble. Mayank's very honest to himself, and he's an amazing team-man. That way, he can add a lot of value to the team."