In the 15th over of the Delhi Daredevils’ chase, opener Mayank Agarwal sliced a Mitchell Johnson delivery between point and third-man for a four. He then followed it up with another boundary in the same region, and finally ended the over with a six over square leg. Mitchell was clearly rattled, ending with figures of 0-43 in four overs. A little-known youngster from Bangalore had stamped his class and managed to get the measure of Australia’s talisman fast bowler.(Full Coverage| Fixtures|Points Table)
Known as a dasher in the domestic circuit, it is not his blistering shots that won Mayank the applause on Wednesday night in Pune. What was refreshing was the manner in which he had paced his innings. His match-winning knock of 68 came in 48 deliveries. Unlike numerous occasions in the past, where he had frittered his wicket away after getting a start, this time Mayank was determined to make it count. Chasing 165 on any wicket could be tricky, especially after his side had lost two wickets by the 8th over. Assessing the situation, Mayank settled down with Yuvraj Singh and kept the scoreboard ticking. Conserving wickets was the key. By the 15th over, the required run-rate had climbed to nearly 11. However, the 24-year-old did not panic. As Mitchell came back for a fresh spell, Mayank seized the opportunity. It not only eased the pressure off Yuvraj at the other end, it also brought the run-rate down. His efforts won him the Man-of-the Match award and helped the Daredevils notch their first win in this season’s IPL.
“After losing two wickets, Yuvi bhai and I just looked to conserve wickets. The run-rate was not an issue as both of us had the confidence that we could clear the boundary towards the end. As we entered the final five overs, I decided to target Johnson and the gamble paid off. It was a calculated assault,” the opener said.
A die-hard Virender Sehwag fan, Mayank has modelled his style of play on the veteran. A hard-hitting stroke player, he is equally comfortable against pace and spin. However, in the three seasons where he has played first-class cricket, it has been his poor conversion rate that has been the bane. Very often he would score a breezy 20 or 30 and then get out. In 40 IPL matches, he has scored only 668 runs with two 50s, having an average of 20. Those are not the kind of stats you would be proud of if you are an opener. In first-class cricket, he averages a shade over 31 in 13 matches, with five 50s in his kitty. However, people who have watched his 68 for Karnataka against the Rest of India rave about his talent. But lack of a ton has hurt him. It is precisely this aspect of his game which has prevented him from taking the leap to the next level. The Delhi Daredevils’ think-tank will be hoping his match-winning knock against Kings XI Punjab will be the turnaround they are hoping for.
Quiz him on his inconsistency and Mayank says, “A series of inconsistent scores in the past have been my undoing. However, there have been no dramatic change that I have made in my technique. It’s just a change in mindset while taking advice from a lot of my seniors on how to pace my innings also helped,” he says.
Among seniors, it was the advice from his idol Sehwag, which he claimed helped improve his game.
Karnataka coach J. Arun Kumar, who has watched Mayank since his Karnataka Premier League days seven years ago, feels he is evolving as a player and going forward, if he can manage to curb his natural instincts, he can become consistent.
“He has all the shots in the book… has a great eye and generates tremendous bat speed, but he has been impetuous,” Arun Kumar says.
So what does the future hold for Mayank? “I harbour national aspirations, but right now the focus is on enjoying my stint with the Daredevils and take it one game at a time.”