MUMBAI: Mayank Agarwal knows that he might be confined to the sidelines once KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma are back in the mix but what has helped him stay focussed is words of wisdom from coach Rahul Dravid, who told him to control what's in his domain.
Agarwal, who has been in and out of the squad in recent times, scored a fine 120 under pressure on the opening day of the second Test before which he watched legendary Sunil Gavaskar's batting videos and slightly changed his stance.
"When I was picked, Rahul bhai spoke to me. He asked me to control what is in my hands and said, 'go out there and give it your best'. He had told me 'When you get set, make it big'. I am happy to have capitalised on the start that I had. But that message was very clear from Rahul bhai, that I should make it count," Agarwal said at the end of the day's play.
The Bangalore-based opener lamented that it was his misfortune that he got hit on the head during a net session in England and then there was nothing in his hands. "It was unfortunate for me to not have played in England, I got hit and there's nothing much I could do about that. I accepted it and continued to work hard and work on my process and my game," he said.
Gavaskar on the day during his commentary session spoke about how he had advised Agarwal to reduce his pronounced back-lift into a shorter one and the opener said that as of now, he is trying to ape the iconic former India captain's side-on stance.
"He told me that I should consider keeping the bat a bit low initially in my innings. I have a tendency to hold it high. I couldn't make that adjustment in this short period of time. When he was saying, I noticed his shoulder position and basically picked up that I need to be more side on," he said.
On the day, he hit four sixes off left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel, who was New Zealand's best bowler by a distance with four wickets to his name. He said that it was a "conscious decision". "He was bowling exceedingly well. But each time anything was in our half (our arc), the plan was to be a bit more attacking. Anything that came a little towards us in length, we were going to go for it. He had that phase when he tied us down, so it was a conscious decision to make it count when we could or each time he bowled it in our spot," he explained.
For Agarwal, this innings was more about "grit and determination" and he was prepared to look ugly as long as he got results. "That is something I have thought about, but this innings was more about grit and determination, just to stick with the plan, be disciplined. I know I didn't look good sometimes but I got the job done," he said.
India hasn't still reached a commanding score and Agarwal reckoned that the first session on Saturday will be crucial. "How we start is crucial, the focus is that. The first session we want to play it out, the wicket is going to get harder and harder to bat on," he said.