R X Muralidhar: The man behind Mayank Agarwal's rise

Australia v India - 4th Test: Day 1
Australia v India - 4th Test: Day 1
Aakanksh Sreenath

Soon after the Indian senior team call-up, Mayank Agarwal left no stone unturned to make a mark and establish himself in the red ball cricket. In his short international career so far Mayank already has two composed fifties to his name.

It's not easy to play your very first match in a high voltage contest coming into the side midway through the series, but Agarwal has always thrived on crunch situations and has emerged on top every time.

The journey all started in the training sessions of the Bishop Cottons Boys School, Bangalore. He has come a very long way since then. Mayank came into the spotlight after a scintillating season with the KSCA U-19 in the 2008-2009 Cooch Behar trophy.

Agarwal was the only bright prospect from the disappointing and forgettable 2010 U-19 World Cup held in Australia. He was the highest run-scorer for India U-19 in the tournament. Like any other U-19 cricketer, the process of graduating from U-19 to the senior team was always challenging.

Mayank always had the bulk of talent to flourish at the international circuit but a string of low scores at the domestic circuit added to his woes back in 2014.

Then started a different chapter in his story, R X Muralidhar took him into his wings. Muralidhar is a former Karnataka Ranji Player, level 3 BCCI coach and also the head coach of Mysuru Warriors in the Karnataka Premier League.

Coach R X Muralidhar with Mayank Agarwal
Coach R X Muralidhar with Mayank Agarwal

Muralidhar was the happiest man when Mayank was all set to make his debut in the Boxing Day Test midway through the high voltage series and becoming the 295th player to do so. He has been Mayank's coach for almost five years and knows him in and out. He singled out Mayank's grit, determination, and perseverance that sets him apart from others.

The first two years under coach Muralidhar were not great but he believed that a good domestic season was just around the corner. The coach recollects, "It is not easy for someone who stays 30 km outside of Bengaluru to come to the stadium to do nets, training etc and then he visits my academy, which is again more than 20 km away from KSCA. He finishes his skill works there and then returns home by 6.30 P.M. Imagine, his day starts at 6 A.M."

Mayank's determination and sheer passion towards the game speaks volumes about how tough he is deep inside. The early morning grind sessions, skillful net sessions in the evening eventually turned out to be a great learning curve for the opener.

The turnaround was bound to happen considering the fact that Mayank's determination was immeasurable and he always had the ability to hit the ball cleanly. In 2017, he scored his first triple hundred against Maharashtra. It was just the start of a new chapter, Mayank scored 2,141 across all the formats of the domestic. It is the highest total achieved by any batsman in the Indian Domestic season.

He also bagged the Madhavrao Scindia award for being the top run-getter in the Ranji Trophy. All the accolades go to R Muralidhar who guided the youngster in a fine way towards the path of realizing his dream!

Edited by Aditya Joshi


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