REPORT | Awesome Agarwal puts sorry Tigers to the sword
Mayank Agarwal's double ton helped India to a comprehensive win against Bangladesh with 2 days to spare, sealing the first test match with a massive win by an innings and 130 runs at Holkar Stadium in Indore.
After a surprising decision to bat first at the toss, the Bangladesh batsmen failed to register a challenging score against the in-form Indian pace attack. The pitch had a little green cover and good carry for the first few hours.
By the 20 over mark, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav all had a wicket each and Bangladesh were reeling at 33-3. It didn't take long for the remaining wickets to fall with India having nearly a session to bat through. The biggest partnership between Mushfiqur Rahim and Mominul Haque totalled only 68, with Shami posting figures of 13-5-27-3.
In response, India piled up 407 runs on Day 2. This was only the third instance where Indian batsmen have managed to score 400+ in a single day. Led by the imperious Mayank Agarwal, who posted his second double century at the close of play, India were 493-6, a lead of 343.
The Tigers had three full days to save the Test and salvage a draw in the two-match series, a task much easier said than done. Unfortunately for them, the task proved insurmountable as their exploits were no better the second time around.
58 for 4 after 20 overs this time, the Indian pacers continued their fine form. The Bangladesh batting lineup looked sorry once again, with only two 50+ partnerships offering resistance. Again, the best bowling figures came from Shami who finished with 16-7-31-4.
Both teams now move onto Eden Gardens to play a the first ever day-night Test match in India. Virat Kohli will be eagerly anticipating his quicks to fire once again, against a fragile batting lineup. Speaking in the build-up to the game, he said “The pink ball does a lot early on, more than the red ball. The pink ball Test is going to be exciting. It's going be a landmark event for Indian cricket and Indian Test cricket.”
It was Agarwal who delivered the most punishing blow to Bangladesh, with a brutal 243 from 330 balls.
In October, Agarwal scored 215 against South Africa in his home debut and followed that up with a remarkable 108 in Pune against the Proteas. He could have been forgiven for resting on his laurels, but the 28-year-old was hungry for more, intent on making an another impression.
He was lucky on the first day when he was dropped on 32 off Abu Jayed, an easy catch at first slip fluffed by Imrul Kayes.
But after the let off, he paced his innings with control and poise. Following in the footsteps of his idol Virendar Sehwag, mixing aggression with composure, he brought up the double hundred by skipping down the track and dumping a tired ball over long-on.
In a post-match interview, he talked about how his attitude towards the game has helped him. “I changed my mindset in 2016. Dropped my fear of failure. After that, I only got hungry and hungry. There have been times when I've not got runs, so when the going is good, just thinking of making it big. Really enjoyed the time since I made the Test team."
It was evident in his approach. As he reached 150, his captain stuck two fingers back up at him, signalling that he wanted a double ton. Mayank delivered with style and did exactly what the skipper asked him to do, equalling the record for most sixes (8) by an Indian batsman in a Test innings in the process. Bangladesh, meanwhile, failed to outscore Mayank in their second innings as well.
For Agaarwal, the skipper’s word is gospel. He said: “I am very glad for the start that I got. It's great to have somebody like Virat who can motivate you like that. When I got my first 150, Virat was at the other end and he told me that nothing short of 200 would do.”
Agarwal has an immense average of 71.50 so far in his fledgling Test career, and will look continue this impressive form at Eden Gardens.
· 2nd - Mayank Agarwal is only the 2nd Indian opener to score two double centuries in a calendar year (Virender Sehwag scored 319 against South Africa and 201 against Sri Lanka in 2008). He is also now only the 2nd Indian to bring up his double century by hitting a six. The first player to achieve this was Rohit Sharma versus South Africa in Ranchi last month.
· 8 – Number of Test matches Mayank needed to score his 2nd double century; the 3rd fewest by any player. India’s Vinod Kambli scored his 2nd double ton in his 4th Test. Sir Donald Bradman did it in 7 Test matches.
· 243 – Mayank Agarwal’s 243 is now the 5th highest individual score by an Indian opener in Test cricket. The top four entries in the list all belong to Sehwag.
Zenith Vaghasiya - MA Sports Journalism & ardent Indian cricket fan