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Mayank Agarwal: Calling his Shots Right

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Mayank_Agarwal_India_Cricket“Sir, you are spot on and I am not in a hurry at all.”

This is what 27-year old Karnataka batsman Mayank Agarwal said when Chief Selector MSK Prasad had tried to explain why they had overlooked him for the Nidahas Trophy despite Mayank’s rich vein of form in domestic Cricket.

And just like the sublimely timed shots that he has played throughout this domestic season, across all formats, he timed and executed his words to perfection once again while speaking to Prasad.

 

“We have followed a pattern in our selection process. Each and every national contender is in the queue and we don’t believe that anyone can jump the queue. Mayank is a wonderful kid and he completely understood what I explained to him,” Prasad said, on how well Mayank was handling his exclusion.

 

Every player waits for one such domestic season when everything just clicks. A season when all the hard work that he puts into practice, transforms into results on the field. When something like that happens, his chances for national selection become more and more likely. And a national call up only serves as a confidence booster for the player.

For Mayank, this 2017/18 season has been very special and he will cherish these memories throughout his lifetime. His purple patch started off in the Ranji Trophy, where he scored a total of 1,160 runs at a staggering average of 105.45; a run tally that included five centuries and two fifties along with a best score of an unbeaten 304. He capped off the season emerging as the highest run scorer in the history of the Vijay Hazare Trophy, amassing 723 runs at a mammoth average of 90.37. Those runs included three centuries and four fifties, one of which was an innings of 90 in the final that helped his team claim the trophy.

Sandwiched between those two record breaking tournaments were his exploits in the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy, where he showed his explosiveness as a T20 batsman, amassing 258 runs at an average of 28.66 and an attractive strike rate of 144.94.

All these performances led him to a score a total of 2,141 runs in this domestic season, which is the highest ever run tally in one season by an individual batsman in the history of Indian domestic cricket. So he has probably achieved more than everything needed to earn an Indian team call up for the Nidahas trophy, in which first team players like Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, and Kuldeep Yadav have been rested.

 

However, the selectors surprisingly chose to overlook him for this T20I tri-series featuring India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. His exclusion, even after performing so well, came as a shock. Such decisions can turn out to be demoralizing for the players. But Mayank seems to be handling this situation pretty well as he is aware of the competition for places in the Indian squad.

 

He knows that there are far more deserving players waiting in the queue who have been performing well for a long time. And just one good season is not enough for a player, at least as far as Indian Cricket is concerned, to get them into the national team.

He has matured a lot over the years, from being an inconsistent batsman to becoming a highly dependable one at the top of the order for his team. And that maturity is reflected in his off-field exploits as well—in the way he is handling his words and hiding his disappointment as well.

He is calling all his shots right at the moment—both on and off the field. And so it becomes important that the selectors don't keep overlooking him for a long time.

 

A player should always be moved on to bigger things when he is in form and beaming with confidence. Shreyas Iyer could have been a completely different player if he had been fast tracked into the Indian team a couple of years back. He was in full flow in domestic cricket during that period and that form and confidence could have transformed into bigger things if he would have been selected in the Indian squad back then. He is only a fringe player now struggling to cement his place in the limited overs squad.

 

The Indian selectors should not make the same mistake with Mayank. They should try to fast track him into the Indian squad as soon as possible.

Look at how D’Arcy Short is performing for Australia in T20Is. The selectors fast tracked him into the squad just after one massive BBL season and both Australia and Short himself are reaping the rewards for it.

The same becomes important with the 27-year old as well. Some things are needed to be done at the right time to get the right results. And the selectors should realize that sooner rather than later.

 

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Prasenjit, a techie by profession and Sports writer by passion, hails from the 'City of Joy'-Kolkat...

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