Mayank Agarwal made an impressive debut in the backdrop of India's historic win in Australia. Under the captaincy of Virat Kohli, the number one-ranked Test team registered a first-ever Test series win in Australia recently. Karnataka's top-order batsman Mayank Agarwal impressed one and all in his debut series with impressive scores of 76 and 42 in Melbourne and 77 in Sydney. The 27-year-old opener said India A tour of New Zealand that coincided with the Test series helped him play confidently Down Under.
"I went there with a plan and I am glad it came off for a bit. I thought Australia was a top-class bowling unit. They play their cricket hard and bring out the best in you. You can't pick out a bowler. Everyone was good and you have to be on top of your game to face them," Agarwal said on Thursday.
"Playing in New Zealand did help a lot. It was a tremendous learning experience. The conditions weren't same but similar to Australia. There was a lot of pace in the wickets and New Zealand A had international bowlers in their line-up. So, it was good that I got to play there before the Australia series," he added.
Overwhelmed by the comparisons with Virender Sehwag after his 'dream debut' in Australia, Agarwal said he will be happy if he could do even half of what the former India opener achieved in his illustrious career.
Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar and his personal coach Irfan Sait are among those who feel that "there is a little bit of Sehwag" in Agarwal, who drew the flattering comparison with his aggressive style of play.
"Honestly, I am not a fan of comparisons but he is one of the greats of Indian cricket. I just like to go in the middle, give my best and see what comes out of it. Having said that, if I could do even half of what he (Sehwag) did, I will be happy," the Karnataka batsman told PTI after returning home.
He did not have a sponsor's logo on his bat throughout his three innings in Australia but after his exploits, hopes to get one soon.
Agarwal had replaced the injured Prithvi Shaw in the squad and with KL Rahul and Murali Vijay dropped from the side after failing in the opening two Tests, facing the likes of Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc was as tough a challenge as he could face in his debut innings on Boxing Day.
"Definitely, it was (special), to make my debut at the MCG and most importantly, to win the Test series in Australia. We became the first team from the sub-continent to win a series in Australia. There can't be a better start than this," said Agarwal, who finally got his opportunity after being on the fringes for a long time.
On the morning of the Boxing Day Test, he had received words of encouragement from Virat Kohli before the skipper handed the India cap to Agarwal. The talented opener did not let his captain down and by the end of the series, he became a strong contender alongside Shaw to open in the West Indies series after the World Cup.
(With PTI inputs)