• Sunday, July 21, 2024


Red-hot Agarwal delighted to cash in on strong form

Mayank Agarwal (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

By: Sarwar Alam

India’s Mayank Agarwal said getting big scores when in form is key after his double century guided the hosts to a giant first-innings lead over Bangladesh in the first Test on Friday.

The 28-year-old opener, who has hit three tons including two double hundreds in his last five Test innings, smashed eight sixes and 28 fours in his 243.

Agarwal passed 200 with a six off Mehidy Hasan and continued his big hitting until he was finally caught at deep mid-wicket by Abu Jayed off Mehidy. He left to another standing ovation.

India were 493 for six at stumps in response to Bangladesh’s 150 all out on Thursday. They lead by 343 runs with Ravindra Jadeja, on 60, and Umesh Yadav, on 25, at the crease.

“I must respect that I am batting well and when I am doing that, I need to make sure I make it big,” Agarwal told reporters.

“Put the team in the driver’s seat from where we cannot lose becomes key. Knowing that you are batting well and you have got 100, it’s on you to take the team ahead.”

Left-hander Jadeja kept up the attack after a 123-run partnership with Agarwal for the fourth wicket.

Jadeja celebrated with his trademark sword dance when he reached a half-century in 72 balls, while Yadav smashed three sixes in his 10-ball blitz.

Agarwal also added 190 with Ajinkya Rahane, who compiled a fine 86, after the hosts resumed the day on 86 for one.

Rahane became paceman Abu’s fourth victim of the innings soon after the tea break.

– Pressure and PubG –

But Agarwal relentlessly hit the bowlers to the boundary after completing his second 200-plus score in his eighth Test appearance since making his debut last year in Melbourne.

His previous best was 215 in the first Test against South Africa last month.

Agarwal’s marathon knock eased Indian nerves after skipper Virat Kohli was out for a duck — his 10th in 83 Tests — in the first session.

“There is always pressure in international cricket but they (Bangladesh bowlers) were bowling well,” said Agarwal, who said he plays online game ‘PubG’ to relax in the evening.

“He (Abu) was in the middle of a good spell and you got to respect that.”

Agarwal, after surviving a dropped catch on day one, successfully reviewed an lbw call after being given out in the opening session when on 82.

Abu, who sent opener Rohit Sharma packing for six on Thursday, got Cheteshwar Pujara (54) caught at gully soon after the overnight batsman had completed his fifty with a boundary.

But it was Kohli’s wicket that briefly brought joy to Bangladesh after they successfully reviewed an lbw appeal rejected by the umpire. Replays indicated the ball would have hit leg stump.

India’s pace bowlers, led by Mohammed Shami who took three wickets, dealt with Bangladesh on the opening day of the two-match series after the tourists won the toss but chose to bat first on a green wicket.

Coach Russell Domingo said Bangladesh, playing their first Test since the suspension of captain Shakib Al Hasan, need “structural changes” to their set-up to make them serious contenders in Test cricket.

“Bangladesh’s Test record isn’t good. It has been happening for a long time. If we want to become a serious Test team, we need to make structural changes in the team to ensure performance at home and away,” said Domingo.

“I need to discuss these things with the selectors and captain, and plan a way forward.”

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