Taking a moment to reflect on notching a fourth Test century, Mayank Agarwal has stressed the importance of India building on a solid start at the Wankhede Stadium.
Despite unseasonal Mumbai rain and the constant threat of New Zealand’s Ajaz Patel, Agarwal was resolute, reaching his hundred with a confident cover drive off the bowling of Daryl Mitchell.
Finishing the day on 120*, Agarwal will aim to continue India's charge with Wriddhiman Saha (25*), combining in a partnership of 61 before stumps were called.
“To get another hundred in Test cricket, and to get it in the Wankhede, was a special feeling.”
Agarwal put on 80 with Shubman Gill for the first wicket after the early delay, though the touring Black Caps looked to have swung things in their favour, with Ajaz breaking through to remove Agarwal’s partner for 44. The left-arm orthodox spinner then claimed Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli both for ducks in his next over, forcing India to regroup.
Shreyas Iyer came to the crease and stopped the bleeding with Agarwal, who took responsibility through a lift of tempo. For Agarwal, taking on New Zealand’s biggest threat by disrupting the spinner's rhythm was the best way to counter.
“I thought he bowled exceedingly well today, and he kept bowling in a cluster and he kept putting pressure (on).”
“He had that phase where he had tied us down, so if we let him bowl the way he did, he probably would have ended up with more wickets, so it was a conscious decision. If you get a scoring opportunity, we needed to make it count.”
“Anything that was there in our half, the plan was to be a little attacking. So anything that came a little towards us in length I was definitely looking to go.”
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Iyer made just 18 of the 80 runs for the fourth wicket when Ajaz claimed him as his fourth wicket, and when joined by Wriddhiman Saha, Agarwal decided to re-evaluate his own gameplan. The new partnership added just five runs in the first five overs of their stand, with tearaway quick Kyle Jamieson deployed to compliment Ajaz at the other end.
Despite the 18 boundaries through an array of shots, Agarwal also showed measure in several slow periods, scaling his game back to ensure survival.
“This innings was more about grit and determination, sticking to a plan and just having the mental discipline to (stick) with that plan.”
“I know there were times when I didn’t look good but it didn’t make much of a difference, as long as the work was getting done, as long as the job was getting done.”
India finished at stumps on 221/4, and Agarwal feels India’s approach in the second morning session will dictate the entire Test match, with the Wankhede tipped to break up even in the backend of day two.
“It’s going to be very important on how we start tomorrow morning.
“The wicket is going to get harder and harder to bat on so we want to get as many as we can.”
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