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Very rarely does one see Chris Gayle being outscored in a partnership. It has now happened twice in the last two games that the Royal Challengers Bangalore have played. And the batsman who has done the unthinkable is a little-known, diminutive and soft-spoken lad from Bangalore, Mayank Agarwal.
The 21-year-old is in tremendous form in IPL 2012. He’s been striking the ball brilliantly and fearlessly against some of the better international bowlers. But the young man has set high standards for himself and wants to do more than just getting his team off to flying starts.
After RCB’s shattering loss to the Rajasthan Royals at home, the young opener spoke to iplt20.com about his disappointment of not converting starts into match-winning scores and the experience of opening the batting with Chris Gayle. You have been performing well this season. How’s it like to outscore Chris Gayle in a partnership?
I am striking the ball well, but can’t say I have been playing well because 30’s and 40’s are not taking me or my team anywhere. In games like this, the guy who gets in should be getting a big score. I’ve faulted there quite a few times, and it does not help the team. RCB have lost three out of four games now. This is a surprise given the pedigree of the team. What’s the reason behind this?
I just think that we need to start playing better cricket. We’ve got to bat a little better and I am sure that with the side we have, we are going to come back and make an impact. Last year too we came back from a similar situation. Now all we’ve got to do is focus on the remaining games and come back hard as a team. How is it to open the batting with Chris Gayle?
Batting with him is extremely great. It makes things a lot simpler for you. You know that even if you don’t get runs, he is there to strike it big and we can cover up the run-rate anytime. He is a fantastic player and he can make things simple for you. Hopefully, we can make it count in the next game. What have you learnt from the various international batting stars in RCB?
Backing my ability is what I have learnt from them; just go there, express myself and enjoy my game. I have been talking to them and they are helping me with how to build and pace my innings. It’s a learning curve for me, and I need to start playing myself in.
Were you confident of chasing down the target when you came to bat?
We knew it was a good target and we could chase it down. The least we can do is believe in ourselves and that’s all that is in our hands. It hasn’t happened for us in the four games so far, but we will make it happen.
When the Rajasthan Royals bid for Owais Shah at the 2012 IPL Players Auction, they didn’t have to compete with too many franchises to get him. Now, almost two weeks into the tournament, not many teams would mind having him.
One can be forgiven in thinking that this is Shah’s first stint in the IPL. But the fact is, he has been here before, as part of the Delhi Daredevils, the Kolkata Knight Riders and the now-defunct Kochi Tuskers Kerala. His previous teams failed to use his potential to the fullest. The Royals, however, have put ample faith in him and they’re reaping the rewards of the same.
Shah has been a revelation so far, playing some outstanding match-winning cameos for his franchise. He has finished the game for them as well as delivered batting up the order. His biggest contribution so far, came in form of a 26-ball knock of 60 runs, which downed the formidable Royal Challengers Bangalore in their own backyard.
After playing a significant part in RR’s morale boosting 59-run win over RCB, Shah took time out to speak to iplt20.com. Were you happy to bat up the order?
Yeah, I feel I am in reasonable form, so it was nice to get up the order. We didn’t lose a wicket till halfway, so the captain decided to promote me and Brad Hodge up the order, and we did reasonably well with young Rahane timing the ball well. I was trying to play a supporting role and then eventually got into my game. Which role do you prefer – finishing the game or helping the team build the innings?
I think, bit of both really. I like to think of myself to be a player who can adapt to different situations. I’ve been lucky enough in my career to have batted at No.3 a lot back home in England and also bat at the end for some of the teams I’ve played for. I like to play both roles, which is a string to my bow, and hopefully, it helps me in getting selected in the eleven. I don’t want to pigeonhole myself as one type of batsman.
Bowlers tend to get complacent when they have a huge target to defend. Was there specific talk in the change room after the first innings to guard against that?
Yes. I personally thought that we had a very good score, but not one that made us unbeatable. I thought the batting conditions were very good and I stressed that point to Rahul [Dravid] and the bowlers. I reminded them that we’ve got to change the pace and be very clever, otherwise we could easily lose the game. We definitely spoke a lot about particular plans and how we’re going to bowl, and it worked in our favour today. What’s the thing you like the most about Rahane’s batting, and tell us about his knock against RCB?
I love the calmness he bats with and the wonderful timing he has. You see a lot of talent in India with people like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina, and Rahane is definitely in that league. Rahane has got a lot of time when he plays and he is very good on both front and back foot. I think he has got a very bright future ahead of him.
You seem to be in a good form this season. Is the role of being the senior player getting the most out of you?
This is probably the first time I have played a lot of T20 cricket in the IPL. I have played two or three games here and there. Over the four years I have been involved in the IPL, I have been generally carrying drinks. I am lucky enough to get a run in the team and show people what I can do. I feel relatively inexperienced in the IPL; but on the other side of it, I have played a fair bit of T20 cricket in my career. I try and draw on my experience when I bat. I try and get my basics right, like build on partnerships and play straight early on and that seems to work for me. How was it giving Chris Gayle a taste of his own medicine?
I am not too sure about that. Chris probably was called up on to bowl an over in quite tough circumstances. Some days things work for you and some days they don’t, and unfortunately, it didn’t work for Chris today.
Was there a clear plan to see off Daniel Vettori, Muthiah Muralitharan and Zaheer Khan, and to go after the other bowlers?
It was more a case of getting ourselves in. We don’t worry much about the opposition, and it’s more about what RR are capable of doing. We back our strength, and go from there. What’s the best thing about Rahul Dravid’s captaincy?
His calmness and he is best under pressure and probably the best cricketer I have ever played with.