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Time with Sunil Gavaskar added to memorable India A outing: Mayank Agarwal

New Delhi: The Man of the Series performance in his maiden India A appearance has been a "turnaround" of sorts for Mayank Agarwal, who feels that tips from the likes of Sunil Gavaskar and Rahul Dravid during the tri-series will go a long way in shaping up his fledgling career.


Mayank Agarwal

Agarwal earned his A call-up with a strong showing for Karnataka in the one-day competitions but it was not before he was dropped from the Ranji Trophy side.

India A coach Dravid thought the Ranji snub was a "big wake-up call" for the dashing opener, who couldn't do much except for agreeing with the batting great.

"Yes you can say it is a bit of a turnaround. I have got to understand my game a lot better in the last six to eight months. I think the transition started in September last year and slowly I got to understand my game better and work on my game-plan," Agarwal told PTI.

The 24-year-old amassed 409 runs in five innings in the tri-series with the highlight of his stellar effort being back-to-back hundreds against South Africa A.

While he picked Dravid's brain throughout the tournament, Agarwal said a brief chat with Gavaskar too did him a world of good.

"I was lucky enough to spend sometime with Gavaskar sir. It was after our first league game against South Africa. He told me he always looked to bat out a session. There were a lot of questions asked. Things like how to face the fast bowlers across formats. It meant a great deal as he is one of the best we have had," said Agarwal recalling his interaction with the former India captain, who was in Chennai for a commentary stint.

The Bangalore-born batsman has been a regular for Karnataka in the shorter formats, something that helped him get his IPL break well before he made his First-Class debut.

Looking ahead, Agarwal is keen on improving his record in the four-day format in which he is yet to make a hundred in 13 matches.

"Dravid sir told me that preparation before the game is very important and if you do that well, consistency will follow. Everytime after the innings, I could ask him anything about batting. That was great.

"Overall, the biggest takeaway was his (Dravid's) insight on preparation. He also helped with my onside play and how to go about with ondrives," Agarwal said. How was the experience of playing an A series for the first time?

"It was a great experience. Not only because of the runs I got, it was also about a lot of learning right through the series, including interactions with the likes of Gavaskar and Dravid. You are bound to learn a lot from them. Plus it is one step before the highest level, only a selected few get to play at that level," he said.

Talking about his preparation in the off-season, Agarwal says it was mainly about analysing his batting in different versions of the game.

"It was mostly about finding out and working on my strengths, the areas where I will get my runs, the areas I am not scoring runs, the kind of deliveries that are getting me out.

"In the 50 over format, I am looking to play more number of balls with a target on my mind. I am looking to see out the first 10 overs and then pace my innings and try to bat till the 50th over."

Agarwal has already made a case for a Ranji return next season and is ready for the long haul.

"In the longer format, the basics will remain the same. I will see what shots I can play on a given surface. I don't need to be playing too many shots in the longer format as there is time, so I will just look to play session after session.

On changes made in his technique, he adds: "I try to be more balanced at the crease. How well I am moving, transferring of weight from front foot to back foot and vice versa. I have worked a lot with my coaches back home."

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