In cricket, ‘consistency’ is a popular term. The only way for a player to make a cut in the main side is either by scoring runs consistently or by picking wickets on regular basis or doing both. Karnataka’s opening batsman Mayank Agarwal certainly ticked the boxes through his willow in the domestic season – across formats. Be it the Ranji Trophy or Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy or Vijay Hazare Trophy, he’s not only been consistent but ruthless too. Bagging 2051 runs – with one inning still to go – in a domestic season is not an easy task but the right-hander did it.
Agarwal had a dismal start to the season. He scored 31 in first three innings that included a pair. But the encounter against Maharashtra, that Karnataka won by an innings, changed the complexion of the season for Mayank and he’s not looked back. A 304* was followed by 176, 23, 90, 133*, 173, 134, 78 in eight innings. Karnataka were once the favourites to bag the title but went down to Vidarbha in the semi-finals. Nevertheless, Agarwal had proved his worth in long format till now.
The Karnataka opener would have wanted to carry his form in the T20 domestic league. He failed to deliver on some occasions but still collected a decent amount of runs to end the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy with 258 runs at a strike rate of 144.94 including three half-centuries.
On to the fifty over format, the Karnataka opener is back in the top slot for the most number of runs. From seven matches, he amassed 633 runs, at an average of 90.43 and a strike rate of 107.10 including three hundreds and three half-centuries. Andhra’s KS Bharat emerged as the second highest run scorer in the season and yet he scored 243 runs lesser than Mayank.
Karnataka are in the final now of the Vijay Hazare Trophy and they will be facing Saurashtra who defeated Andhra in semi-final at Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi on Sunday. The final is also scheduled to take place at the same venue but what Saurashtra need to be scared of is Mayank’s form with the bat in this very ground.
He scored a blistering 140 against Hyderabad and 81 against Maharashtra in his last couple of outings at Feroz Shah Kotla. Mayank’s scoring rate is one thing that has made pundits kept their eyes on the 27-year-old but above that is his conversion rate.
The question that pops up now is what more does a player need to do to make a place in the national side especially when the selectors have a cushion of making senior players rest. The 15-man squad that will travel to Sri Lanka for the T20I tri-series also comprising Bangladesh, doesn’t include Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya and Kuldeep Yadav. The side would be led by Rohit Sharma with Dinesh Karthik being the first-choice wicket-keeper along with Rishabh Pant as a reserve.
Including Rohit in the squad suggests that he has the ability to lead the team in Kohli’s absence and has delivered well in the past while wearing the captain’s armband. The squad also mentions the names of Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul and this goes without saying that either of the two would open for India. While players like Kohli and Dhoni have been rested, someone like Dhawan may well have suited to join in on the sidelines to recharge batteries. Well, eventually, it’s on the selectors as to what kind of team combination they want but Mayank Agarwal would be sitting, wondering what more is required of a player in domestic cricket.