Mayank Agarwal: ‘Selection not in our control’

Karnataka batsman Mayank Agarwal, who has scored 2,051 runs so far this domestic season, and Andhra skipper Hanuma Vihari say it is essential to stay motivated through performances irrespective of the selection process at the national and IPL level.

Karnataka batsman Mayank Agarwal has struck an astounding 633 runs (till the semifinal) in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.   -  SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

What do you do when you don’t make the cut despite runs in your domestic season report card? It’s simple, you think of maintaining consistency or upping your intensity further. At least, that’s been the case with Mayank Agarwal and Hanuma Vihari — the run-machines of the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2017/18.

With 1,160 runs including five hundreds and two fifties for Karnataka, Mayank emerged as the top run-scorer in the Ranji Trophy and carried the form into the limited-over tournaments. But even after scoring 258 runs and 633 runs (till the semifinal) in Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tourney and Hazare respectively, Mayank couldn’t catch the national selectors’ eyes for the Nidahas Trophy, a tri-nation T20series, to be held in March.

READ: Mayank Agarwal makes history

The tournament in Sri Lanka, with Bangladesh as the third nation, will introduce youngsters as seniors applied for leaves. Among the new names, Deepak Hooda — with 226 runs in Mushtaq Ali and 352 in Hazare — and Rishabh Pant — owing to 411 runs in Mushtaq Ali including a breezy 32-ball 100  — whooshed into the batting department. The squad also features Tamil Nadu all-rounders Vijay Shankar and Washington Sundar.

Not fair to differentiate

When Sportstar contacted Mayank, he didn’t seem too concerned about the missed opportunity. Rather, he sounded upbeat for the final against Saurashtra on Tuesday.

“We, as players, don’t differentiate between this tournament and that. The sport is right out there and we need to go and perform. I don’t think it’s fair to say that only a particular tournament motivates you. It isn’t fair to differentiate as we love to play the game. It is better to focus on things that are in your hands. Selection is something that is not in our control,” said the 27-year-old, who in overall, has smashed 2,051 runs so far this season.

Mayank’s strength lies in his appetite for runs. The right-handed batsman doesn’t like to rest on laurels. “There is so much more to achieve. We have a Vijay Hazare trophy final coming up; winning the tournament is very important,” he added.

On the brighter side, he will enter a new team, Kings XI Punjab, in the forthcoming Indian Premier League (IPL). “Since I am playing for them for the first time, I am really excited. I am looking forward to meeting everyone. Once the camp starts in March, we will get better clarity of things,” said Mayank.

To stay ready

Vihari has been deprived of IPL luxury for the last two seasons. He used to represent Sunrisers Hyderabad till 2015. The Andhra skipper, also the third highest run-scorer (378) in Hazare, remained unsold at the auctions in January. “It is not in my control. IPL, I don’t know how it works. I don’t think about it much. I try to do things which are in my control and I don’t really regret much,” he stamped his dedication to his craft.

Under his captaincy, Andhra won seven games in a row before losing the Hazare semifinal to Saurashtra by 59 runs. 

Vihari is keen to take the positives from the season to prepare for the next. “It is important to perform consistently in the domestic circuit irrespective of the selection process. Whatever may be the procedure, which again is not in our control, it is essential to keep scoring runs and wait. If I keep at it, the chance will come eventually. The way I batted this season has given me a huge boost for the road ahead. It is also important to assess how I got those runs,” he added.

Vihari is unaware of his next match but still, he wants to stay prepared. “I don’t know about the upcoming matches. I will keep working on my fitness and wait for opportunities,” he promised.