International Domestic

‘Focussed’ Mayank reaps benefits of backing natural game

After finishing as the highest run-getter in the Ranji Trophy 2017 - 18, Mayank Agarwal is topping the batting charts in the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2017-18. During his 81-run knock in the semi-final of the ongoing one-day tournament, he surpassed Dinesh Karthik’s record for most runs in a single Vijay Hazare Trophy season. Ahead of the final, he has 633 runs from seven matches at an average of 90.42, including three centuries.

Speaking about the record Agarwal told, bcci.tv, “It feels nice that I have got these many runs. Also, I feel extremely happy that these runs are contributing to Karnataka’s wins.”

‘Try and enjoy the game as much as you can and try and contribute to the team’s success,’ has been Agarwal’s mantra and it has paid rich dividends through the season.

The advice from Rahul Dravid, former India captain and coach of India A and Under 19, has also helped the batsman. “This season during a series against New Zealand A, Rahul bhai was our coach. I spoke to him and during our chat, he told me, 'Mayank you should be more consistent. You should think about managing your mental energies. You are thinking too much, you are trying too hard.' Then he made me understand how he went about things and how he felt there was a difference. I followed his advice of not thinking too much, not over analyzing and enjoying the game rather than always trying to be on the lookout for a few things. I realized I could preserve my mental energies and enjoy the game better, which is important." 

Discussing his form and consistency against the red ball as well as the white ball, Agarwal observed, “I think it is more about the mindset. The basics remain the same. If you understand your role and you understand your game then I think it is more about mindset. It’s about cutting down risks when you are playing four-day and five-day cricket and then more of percentage cricket in fifty overs. In T20s, you play according to the situation – whether high risk or how you decide according to the situation."

However, during a season, cricketers have to switch gears from one format to another in quick time. Explaining how he went about the task, Agarwal said, “That’s the beauty of domestic cricket and international cricket, you have to switch gears quickly. It becomes very important to use the practice sessions, the time between tournaments to go back and set your plans and practice hard for different formats and with a different ball.”

Elaborating further on his process, the opener said, “For Ranji Trophy, it was mostly about practicing for different conditions, playing with new balls more, playing on wet wickets, on astroturf wickets where there is more seam and more bounce. When it came to Twenty20, it was more about playing those few strokes and sticking to those strokes that are my strength.

"In the fifty-over format, it is about pacing the innings well. Also, I practiced hard for the middle overs – between 10 to 40 overs. We practice a lot of match situations and about different conditions, so I got to understand my game better. I was not trying to be technically very correct, but found out my way of doing things."

One of the persons who has helped Agarwal along in his path is his coach. “I would give a lot of credit to my coach RX Murali sir. He has been a big influence, working on mental and technical aspects,” he said.

“We said we will play aggressive cricket and I will look to play my natural game. If I get set, then I need to make it big. That was the focus but no goals in terms of numbers as such,” he added. 

Agarwal has been the mainstay of the Karnataka line-up this season and will be looking to help his side win the Vijay Hazare Trophy. Although one of the more well-rounded teams, a title has been elusive for Karnataka this season. Looking forward to the final against Saurashtra, the batsman said, “I think we played really good cricket. However, we missed out narrowly on the semi-final (Ranji Trophy). Now we are playing the Vijay Hazare Trophy final. We are looking forward to it and we are very excited, but we are going to stick to our process and keep doing the things that have been working for us.”