Mayank Agarwal had a memorable outing in the Indian Premier League this year, amassing 441 runs for Punjab Kings. Being the second-highest scorer for the team – after captain K.L. Rahul – Agarwal had to ensure that he provided good starts to his side, and in doing so, he also gained confidence and found his rhythm.
Having spent three years in international cricket and featured in 14 Tests and five ODIs for India, Agarwal knows what it takes to battle odds and achieve success.
And as he gears up for the Test series against New Zealand, the 30-year-old batter is hoping to keep the momentum going. In a chat with Sportstar recently, Agarwal spoke about the home series against New Zealand, working with new head coach Rahul Dravid and what he has learnt over the last couple of years.
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What are your thoughts ahead of the Test series against New Zealand?
All of us are really excited about the series and are looking forward to playing a good (series). We will be having a camp in Mumbai, and we are working hard and trying to prepare to the best of our abilities for the tour (series).
It’s a new beginning for Indian cricket, with Rahul Dravid taking over as the head coach. Having worked with Dravid in the past, what are you looking forward to?
Having worked with Rahul bhai during India A, it has been a very enjoyable experience, and I am looking forward to working with him in the Indian team again.
You had a good outing in the IPL. How was the whole journey, and how did the stint with Punjab Kings help you?
I am happy with the way I played in the IPL. I have given good performances in the role that was given to me by Punjab Kings. Initially, I (played) aggressively and when given a chance, I had to bat deep. I quite enjoyed the responsibilities that I was given.
You played for Karnataka in the group stage of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Since there hasn’t been much cricket at home, was that experience helpful ahead of the home series against New Zealand?
We are looking at playing a few Test matches during the home season. We had a tremendous home season last time around, and we look to emulate that. We want to play good cricket. Playing at home is always a little bit of an advantage.
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Over the last few years, you have evolved as a batter. While you have opened the innings, at times, you have anchored innings in the middle-order as well. What are the areas you have worked on in a bid to improve your game?
Firstly, representing the country and having done well has given me confidence. That has translated into performing well in the IPL as well. I have had good seasons for Punjab and there have been so many learnings that I have taken and have worked upon. Once I have realised certain things, I have implemented them, and I am happy that those things have actually helped me grow as a player.
Mayank Agarwal is content with his performance for Punjab Kings in the IPL. – BCCI/IPL
At Punjab Kings, you have worked with Anil Kumble for a couple of seasons. Has there been any advice from him that has helped you raise your game?
Anil Sir gave me the freedom to go out there and express myself. I could play my natural game, and he backed me. He is not someone who tinkers things too much, so he gave me that freedom.
Those who know you say that you don’t believe in setting targets. But the next few months are going to be very busy for the Indian team, so keeping that in mind, is there any set plan or target? Have you worked on something specific?
I don’t really discuss my targets. But yes, there has been a lot of learning in the past year. I have worked a lot on my game.
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Shifting from the shorter format to the longer format is a challenge. Over the years, how have you managed to do that smoothly?
When it comes to changing formats, if you have strong basics and if your foundation is strong, then it is more about making a plan and about adapting to different formats.
For every cricketer, there are phases when things don’t go his way. How do you handle such a situation and overcome the odds?
It is very important to understand yourself and understand your game. If you can do that, it becomes a lot easier to deal with the situation.
Over the last couple of years, several young batters have emerged in the Indian team. How do you see this healthy competition?
That’s the beauty of Indian cricket that we have a lot of players coming through (the ranks). The culture that we have created in the team is that everyone is happy for each other, we are proud of the performances everyone puts in, and it’s a good and healthy competition. We are pushing ourselves and helping each other to get better.
There have been ups and downs in your career. Looking back, is there one area that you have worked on that makes you more confident now?
Obviously, dealing with failures is something that I have learned in the past year and a half.