Indian opener Mayank Agarwal has been going through a purple patch in his career over the past few seasons which eventually opened the doors for the Indian side. And with Kings XI Punjab handing captaincy to KL Rahul, someone whom 29-year-old Mayank led for Karnataka domestic side in the past, it won’t be wrong to say Mayank has a bigger role to play for the IPL franchise in the UAE this season.
And after his Sunday night’s sumptuous batting display — a 60-ball 89 against Delhi Capitals in KXIP’s season opener in Dubai — it’s clear that the man from Bengaluru is very well aware of his responsibilities.
Although Mayank couldn't take his side home with the match going into super over after some splendid bowling by DC’s Marcus Stoinis in the last over, the KXIP opener showed he has the experience to hold his nerve after turning a one-sided game into a humdinger.
However, needing just one run with two balls to go, Mayank went for a big shot to finish off the match only to find lone deep point fielder Simron Hetmyer, who made no mistake in grabbing the catch. This was followed by another wicket by match’s main attraction Stoinis to take the game into super over, where his teammate Kagiso Rabada took over to bundle KXIP’s two wickets for mere two runs.
The KXIP batsman still deserves a lot of praise as he took his team close to a win from the jaws of shameful defeat as the Punjab side was reduced to 55/5 while chasing 158. Still many wondered, including legendary Sunil Gavaskar, that what egged Mayank on to go for that big hit when he could have pushed the ball for an easy single.
It turns KXIP star too was out of words too when asked about the same at the post-match press conference.
Mayank, who praised Stoinis for punishing his side for every little error they made, said: “… With us at the death, we batted extremely well and to reach there but I don’t know what to say after that.”
While the green top pitch of the Dubai International stadium expectedly gave a tough time to the openers of both the sides — both losing first three wickets within the powerplay overs —, Mayank kept his composure with KXIP wickets tumbling around him and ideally paced his game in the death overs.
He said that’s what he planned from the word go after seeing the tricky nature of the wicket.
“It’s definitely not the wicket, where you go and start playing your strokes, you got a give yourself some time, get set and then take it on but with that said, it’s not easiest of the wicket to bat on. During the break, we thought it was a par score on this wicket. We knew that if we stitch up a partnership upfront without losing wicket with the new ball, we will win the game,” Mayank said.