Mumbai: BCCI is no IRCTC but Mayank Agarwal was perhaps made to look like that passenger who had been constantly trying to get a booking to reach his desired destination, only to be told that he is in the waiting list. But Mayank kept trying (scoring runs) and kept accessing a variety of browsers (Ranji Trophy, Vijay Harzare and India A) to get a confirmation. The wait is now finally over.
The Karnataka youngster’s efforts and more importantly, perseverance, have paid off. He has received his maiden call-up to the Indian side after the MSK Prasad-led selection panel, on Saturday, announced the squad for the two-match Test series against West Indies.
While Mayank will have to fight it out with the prodigious Prithvi Shaw to grab the slot of the second opener alongside KL Rahul, his international debut is much closer now than any time it was in the past. Mayank, who was in Vadodara when the news broke of his selection, said he was “extremely happy” with his India call-up.
“My family is extremely happy. I am extremely happy and excited. I am looking forward to it (to play for India),” he said.
There had been calls for his inclusion in the Indian squad, with the former cricketers such as Harbhajan Singh even questioning the Indian selectors after he was once again ignored for the Asia Cup 2018. To his credit, Mayank did not let his exclusion from the team bog him down and kept plundering the bowling attacks in the domestic cricket for Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy. Mayank scored 2256 runs in 36 innings across formats in the 2017-18 season and also continued his good run of form as he played for India A in India and abroad.
His impressive showing continued as India A travelled to England and played against the same opposition; along with South Africa and Australia in India. Even on the day he was selected in the Indian side, he scored 90 against the West Indies in a warm-up match while playing for the Board President's XI.
When asked how he managed to keep himself motivated even as the Indian call-up seems elusive, Mayank said, “We had a lot of competitive games going on. (Playing) a lot of India A games and a lot of domestic games actually helps. There are only a few things that you can control and it’s best to only control what’s in your hand and look to perform. The rest is not in your hand.”
It also helped that he played under the watchful eyes of Rahul Dravid, who has been pivotal in making India A and under-19 a powerful feeder system to the senior Indian side. In the current Indian squad for the West Indies Test, there have been six players, in addition to Mayank – Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant, Hanuma Vihari, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav and Shardul Thakur, who were a part of the India A and under-19 (Shaw and Pant) outfits under Dravid.
Mayank appreciated Dravid’s contribution and revealed how the former Indian skipper kept him motivated.
“He said, ‘Look, you have to go out there and do what’s in your control and keep working hard. That’s so much a sportsman can do.’ So, I just stuck to whatever he told me and kept doing that."
While Dravid may not be present in Rajkot on October 4 as Mayank may make his India debut, the other Rahul – his good friend and a state teammate – will be. Mayank admitted that having his state-mate around will be a very good feeling before signing off, highlighting his happiness over his Indian team selection.
“It will be a very good feeling to have a state-mate there. It will be nice. But obviously, playing for the country is the biggest dream. That’s vital and I am happy that I am picked in the side,” concluded Mayank....