Had former Karnataka captain R Vinay Kumar not spurred an out-of-form Mayank Agarwal, who was facing an axe from the state squad, the cricket fraternity might not have witnessed his spectacular consistency, feels former India opener Robin Uthappa.
Agarwal on Thursday became the fourth Indian to convert his first Test century to a double hundred and his former statemate Uthappa recalled how the opener has improved by leaps and bounds since Kumar gave him a vocal tonic.
“I remember we contemplated dropping him from a Ranji game but when (captain) R Vinay Kumar gave him a push (motivational words), he scored a triple hundred and did not look back from there,” Uthappa said on the sidelines of a Kolkata Knight Riders promotional programme.
He went on to score his first triple century in first-class cricket, when he made 304 not out as they thrashed Maharashtra by an innings and 136 runs in Pune, November 1-4 during a Ranji fixture.
Agarwal struck 215 as India scored a massive 502 for seven declared to take a grip of the opening Test against South Africa in Visakhapatnam.
“He will only get better with more opportunities. This will give him a lot of confidence,” Uthappa said.
Uthappa also lavished praise on Rohit Sharma, who scored 176 from 244 deliveries in his first innings as a Test opener, terming him one of the best batsmen of the world.
“He has always done well in India and abroad. In white ball cricket, he dominates the scene right now. He is arguably one of the best batsman in the world,” Uthappa said of Rohit.
Rohit had a stupendous World Cup campaign earlier as he finished with the most runs in India’s semi-final exit.
“He has reached a point in his career where he understands his batting really well and knows what works for him. Given that situation, he must be going through a huge surge in confidence.”
“I think he has figured out opening the batting and this opportunity came at the right moment for Rohit to capitalise on it. So it’s not a surprise that he is successful,” Uthappa said.
Uthappa however did not want to compare Sharma with that of Virender Sehwag.
“Viru (Virender Sehwag) pa would demolish the ball while Rohit caresses it. The way they go about dealing with bowlers is vastly different but the aggressive nature is the common factor.”