Indian Test opener Mayank Agarwal went down memory lane on the eve of the Boxing Day Test, reminiscing his brilliant Test debut against Australia at the colosseum of cricket that is the Melbourne Cricket Ground [MCG]- the same venue where he will stroll out to bat as one of the vital cogs of the Indian team on Sunday [December 26].
Two years ago, the Indian team found itself in a rut thanks to the horrendous form of their openers- Murali Vijay and KL Rahul. The duo had struggled to give the visitors a potent start at the top of the order in each of the four innings of the first two Tests at the Adelaide Oval and at the Optus Stadium in Perth.
Post a shellacking in Perth, both Murali Vijay and KL Rahul were dropped and Mayank Agarwal was handed his maiden Test cap while Hanuma Vihari was elevated at the top of the order as his opening partner.
Turning out to bat in front of a packed Melbourne Cricket Ground can unsettle even an experienced cricketer, let alone a debutant but Mayank seemed unfazed by the magnitude of the occasion.
He took to Test cricket as fish takes to water as he blunted the famed Australian attack to stroke a brilliant 72. Agarwal’s innings set a platform for the Indian team and Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli cashed in big time as the duo helped India post 7/443 in their first innings. Jasprit Bumrah’s 6/33 did the rest as India knocked over Australia for 151 to notch up a huge first-innings lead.
Indian batting fell like a pack of cards in the second innings thanks to a ferocious spell by Pat Cummins [6/27] but Mayank Agarwal once again held fort to score a composed 42, helping the visitors to further stretch what eventually turned out to be a match-winning lead.
“26 -12 – 2018: For a kid, who always harboured dreams of representing his country, I had a lot of emotions running through my mind after receiving the test cap. The memory of walking out to bat at the MCG hasn’t sunk in yet. A memory I’ll cherish forever!” Mayank Agarwal wrote on his official Twitter account.
26 -12 – 2018: For a kid, who always harboured dreams of representing his country, I had a lot of emotions running through my mind after receiving the test cap.
The memory of walking out to bat at the MCG hasn't sunk in yet. A memory I'll cherish forever! ? pic.twitter.com/5H5OXaMbRz
— Mayank Agarwal (@mayankcricket) December 25, 2020
Exactly two years later, Mayank finds himself in a similar situation as India aims to shrug off the horrors of their battling display in the second innings of the Adelaide Test and stage a comeback in the series. Agarwal played a gritty knock in the first innings but failed to convert it into a big knock.
In the second innings, he- just like his teammates- had no answer to the onslaught of Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood. The talented opener, who has racked up 1000 Test runs in just 12 Tests at an average of 52.63 will be hoping to do an encore of his exploits of two summers ago when he walks out to bat alongside debutant Shubman Gill.