'There is a very touching incident which happened at the KIOC. When Agarwal returned from the Under-19 World Cup in 2010, we were honouring him at the KIOC. And during the felicitation, he called his car driver on stage. Mayank Agarwal told us, 'Without this man I would not have been able to reach any cricket ground on time. He too deserves credit'. It was a very touching gesture which we can never forget,' Irfan Sait said
Bengaluru: A long wait will end on Wednesday when Karnataka opening batsman Mayank Agarwal makes his Test debut at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in the third Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
On the eve of the Boxing Day Test, India announced their playing eleven against Australia. Agarwal was confirmed as the country’s 295th Test player. Ironically, he has taken his best friend and state teammate KL Rahul’s place. In 2014, Rahul had made his Test debut against the same opposition, at the same ground.
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The 27-year-old Agarwal has been prolific with the bat in the domestic circuit. He was included in the Test squad for the two-match home series against the West Indies recently but did not get an opportunity.
When the Test squad was picked for Australia, Agarwal was omitted. However, injury to Prithvi Shaw forced the selectors to recall him.
Right-handed batsman Agarwal began his cricket journey at the Karnataka Institute of Cricket (KIOC) in Bengaluru under the guidance of Irfan Sait. When MyNation caught up with Mayank’s coach, he was expectedly elated and backed his ward to “take on the world” and succeed.
“I can safely say that there has been no one who has spent that many number of hours in the nets honing his skills. He has been patient in his training and he has also been patient in waiting for his chance (to play for India). Even for Karnataka, he had to wait for long to get his chance. When he got an opportunity he made it big for the state side. He has got his India break at the right time, when he is matured and in form. He won't be tensed now,” Sait told MyNation on Tuesday.
Sait, who has completed level one, two and three coaching courses, said Agarwal was always determined to play cricket and shared an interesting story of Agarwal, despite an injury, going on to play and scoring a hundred as a 15-year-old.
“He was 15 when he joined the KIOC. He started playing in the fourth division league in Bengaluru. The first league game he played was for Modern Cricket Club (MCC). There is an interesting story which I want to share. Just one week before his first league game, he ran into an electric pole and had a cut under his left eye. It was a very bad injury. That scar still remains. Even after that injury, he wanted to play the match. He did not want to miss at any cost. He played the game with a bandage and got a hundred. He helped us win the match,” Sait recalled.
Agarwal also won hearts with a kind gesture off the field that won hearts at the KIOC. This happened when he returned from the Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand in 2010.
“There is a very touching incident which happened at the KIOC. When Agarwal returned from the Under-19 World Cup in 2010, we were honouring him at the KIOC. And during the felicitation, he called his car driver on stage. Agarwal told us, 'Without this man I would not have been able to reach any cricket ground on time. He too deserves credit'. It was a very touching gesture which we can never forget,” Sait said.
Nine years after he hit a century for India Under-19 in Australia, Agarwal will now get an opportunity Down Under, this time with the senior side.
“The first time he played for India was in Hobart. The interesting thing about that is he was bowled first ball but the bails did not fall. In the same innings, he went on to make 160. It was a game for India Under-19. Now, nine years later, he has got a chance to make his Test debut, again in Australia. This is going to be an auspicious time for him. He will really come out with a big score,” Sait said.
The coach’s advice for Agarwal has always been “be happy and play”. One hopes he does that when he pads up against the Australians in Melbourne.
“He has always been a determined cricketer and a very gutsy fellow. He has so much energy, every team wants a player like him. Many years back, because of his anxiety, he used to fail a lot. But, we told him, 'be happy and play'. In his Test debut, he should do the same thing. He should enjoy his batting. And if he does that, there is no way he can fail. He is ready to take on the world. There is no problem at all. He should continue what he has been doing and he will succeed,” Sait noted.
Last Updated 3:00 PM IST