Just nine days before the 2019 VIVO Indian Premier League, Mayank Agarwal blazed an unbeaten 85 against Maharashtra in the final of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy on Thursday.
A measured yet quick innings that earned him the Man of the Match award, his efforts helped Karnataka lift their maiden trophy in the tournament, marking a record 14-match winning run in T20s for his side.
"I will be hoping this carries forward in the IPL as well," Agarwal told KXIP.in. "It was a good learning for me, in how to pace my innings and how to go about it, lot of that I could use in the IPL as well. I am really excited and should be good taking this into the IPL.
"Getting runs in the finals and the knockouts does give you confidence," he continued. "I am happy to contribute to the team's success and put in good performances in the important matches."
Put into bat first on a wicket that assisted the bowlers as well at the Holkar Stadium in Indore, Maharashtra managed to put on 155/4 in their innings and that seemed enough when Karnataka lost a wicket early in the third over with the score reading 14/1.
But then came Agarwal, who hit sixth gear immediately. In the next over bowled by left-arm spinner Satyajeet Bachhav, the Kings XI Punjab batsman plundered 17 runs off five balls, which included two fours and a thwack over backward square leg for six. That set the course of the match as he put on 92 runs for the second wicket with Rohan Kadam, who slammed a 39-ball 60.
"We had planned to take a couple of chances," he explained. "The plan was that if they get a spinner in the first six overs, you can get runs off him. So if we have good amount of runs in the first six overs, then the middle-overs would be very easy... The idea was to take a few risks so that we could really put them on the backfoot."
After Kadam's exit, he was then joined by KXIP teammate Karun Nair in the middle with the two forging a 53-run partnership, of which Nair made only eight. Agarwal kept the scoreboard ticking with singles and occasional boundaries, eventually ending the match with a four towards point to seal the game by eight wickets.
Mayank Agarwal in Finals for Karnataka:— Sampath Bandarupalli (@SampathStats) March 14, 2019
19 - in VHT, 2013/14 (Won)
125 - in VHT, 2014/15 (Won)
90 - in VHT, 2017/18 (Won)
14 - in Deodhar, 2017/18 (Lost)
85* - in SMA T20, 2018/19 (Won)#SyedMushtaqAliTrophy #MAHvKAR
Agarwal's 85 came in just 57 deliveries, helped with 6 fours and 3 maximums, at a strike rate of 149.12. He struck form late in the tournament, scoring 181 runs in his last five innings, wherein he was dismissed just twice, at average of 90.50.
"I was very pleased and satisfied to put on a performance in the final like that. It was a planned innings, with a thought process in how we are going to chase down the runs," he pointed out. "So, when plans executed like that it is very, very satisfying."