Mayank was not even India's first pick for the opening slot. Having impressed the selectors in his debut appearance at home Prithvi Shaw was a certainty for the role alongside KL Rahul and Murali Vijay. But during the practice game Down Under, Shaw injured himself and Mayank was called as his replacement. And after both Vijay and Rahul failed to impress, Mayank was given the opportunity, with his debut happening in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.
He opened alongside Hanuma Vihari, scored a gritty 76 to give India a strong start which eventually played a pivotal role in their 137-run win. Mayank has since scored 974 runs for India as a Test opener at 57.29 in 11 matches with two double centuries, a century and four fifties.
Kohli, in conversation with Mayank, on bcci.tv, admitted that it was his batting approach that made him a suitable option for the opener's role rather than his domestic run tally that season.
“For me, the biggest marker is how a person approaches playing the game,” Kohli said. “So, for example, when you opened and we made Vihari open with you. We had seen Viahri the way he played, he would come towards the ball, he was brave, he was sure of himself.
“The first opportunity presented to him to open, he said I am going to do it. That, to me, matters more than anything else because I opened in my first series for India, I had never opened in my life before that. I said yes to an opportunity and things worked out fine for me.
“So, a guy who wants to get into the difficult stuff and tough situations, they will come out either holding his head high or learning, there is no loss in that. So, that is what stood out. I had seen you play for RCB, even then you would play international bowlers with absolute conviction and take them on and everything. And you were performing well in first-class cricket for a while, in a dominating way.
“You should be able to be very positive about what you do and how you go about things, so that is something that always stood out with you, and obviously, when you have scored so many runs, it is a no-brainer. For an opener to come in at a time when there is a requirement, and you were the one who had scored the most amount of runs as well.
“But I would say your character stood out the more for me than the number of runs because I knew that you are going to come out and you are going to be fearless, play without baggage and do what the team wants you to do, without thinking what might happen.”
Overall, Mayank returned with scores of 76, 42, and 77 in the three innings he played in Australia.