On a day he reacted with an equal mix of ecstasy and relief after converting his first Test century into a double ton, many will tell you that Mayank Agarwal’s march to the Indian team began when he scored 1003 runs in 27 days during the 2017-’18 Ranji season.
But they’d only be half-right.
For, while that amazing run played a huge role in him forcing his way into the national consciousness, it was his performance in the match before that run began that was the real trigger.
The match was against Hyderabad at Shimoga. In the first innings, Agarwal batting at No 3, lasted just two balls. In the second innings, he tried a different approach and lasted 22 balls before walking back to join his team-mates in the pavilion.
Two ducks in two innings. That never feels good.
“To be honest, I wasn’t sad after the pair because all my team-mates supported me,” Agarwal had told Wisden India in 2017. “If anything, I was happy with how much they backed me. Everyone ensured that the vibe around me was positive, and that reflected in how I batted thereafter.
“Actually, I could not have had a better thing happen to me in my life. I was working on letting go...