Soon after the World Cup, Mayank was picked by IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore, seeing a lot of promise in him. One could perhaps say that till then, he was a limited-overs specialist — one who could score runs quickly, and who was not really suited for 4-day cricket. So, it wasn't until 2013 that Mayank donned the whites for Karnataka. In the next three years of first-class cricket, the Karnataka lad had just one hundred, and seven fifties to show against his name. It wouldn't be wrong to say that his conversion rate wasn't the greatest.
Cut to 2018, Mayank has completely turned the tables and notched five centuries and two fifties in the domestic season. After mustering 1,160 runs in the First-class format, he is continuing his sublime form in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy as well, where he has three hundreds and three fifties already. So what has really brought in such results for Mayank? Apart from the usual hardwork and countless hours of training, he feels that he has gotten more aware about his game, and can play well according to the situation.
In an exclusive chat with Cricketnext, Mayank said, "I think I have better clarity in my mind about my game. There is much more understanding as to what's happening in the match. That has really helped me. What I've understood is that if I'm not getting the boundaries then I can work the ball for one's and two's, and can wait for the loose balls to come.
“I'm quite happy with the way I'm batting at the moment. To have gotten to 2,000 runs in one domestic season including all formats is very pleasing. Having said that I'm not satisfied. As a batsman when you're in good form, you want to keep scoring as many runs as you can. So I'm looking to continue the good work and score more runs. I think it was a conscious effort from my side, to make the most of my starts, and take the team through. And that's been happening throughout the season."
One might find it amusing and interesting that Mayank, along with his coach MX Murali practiced on muddy as well as wet wickets, to be able to adjust to different kinds of wickets. He did not stop there, as he went to the extent of training with synthetic and plastic balls too. All his efforts seem to certainly have reaped good results for him.
"Initially for a couple of years we really worked hard on the technique. We didn't make any major changes, but our focus was on the minor alterations. I did get a lot of results from that, and we were quite sure about that. Also, this year it was a lot about situation-based practice for me. Like there were times we practiced in absolute mud, then clay, wet wickets, synthetic balls, plastic balls. Then we did a lot of drills how I would go about in the middle overs of a 4-day game, or the starting overs in a 50-over game. We did a lot of practice. The message from the coach was that I need to find out my way of dealing in such situations," he added.
Seeing his record this year — 2,051 runs across all formats — it's understandable that the player hopes for an India call-up. But the hard-hitting batsman missed the chance of being selected for upcoming Nidahas Trophy. Before the team was announced, Mayank had made it clear that his time will come, and he is not thinking about selection too much.
"I think India call-up is not in my control, and I don't want to think about it too much now. I want to focus on the task at hand and that is the Vijay Hazare Trophy final. We'll be playing on the 27th, and the talk in the dressing room is that the people who are doing well right now have to take the team through. That's what we've spoken about.
“There's a lot of things to worry about in cricket, and thinking about selection can only worry you. And when you're playing a game that should be your sole focus. So these things don't really cross your mind," he added.
Karnataka has been one of the most consistent domestic teams for the last few years, but hasn't been able to win a trophy this season, after having come really close in Ranji Trophy and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Now here is a golden opportunity for the Mayank and his team to get their hands on the silverware.
"If you look at the team performance, we played the semi-finals of the Ranji Trophy, and it was a close game. But losing from that situation was a heartbreak. I think we could have done well. In the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament too, I think we played well, but didn't qualify for the finals because of the run-rate. And now we are in the final already. We would like to end the season with a win," he signed off.
First Published: February 26, 2018, 8:59 AM IST