Sharjah: Mayank Anurag Agarwal looks unstoppable in the IPL. Just seven days after making his highest IPL score of 89, the Kings XI Punjab opener smashed his maiden century off 45 balls — the second-fastest by an Indian and eighth overall in the 13-year history of the T20 league. His century however went in vain as Rajasthan Royals incredibly chased down the target of 224 that was set up KXIP to complete the highest successful run chase in IPL history.
Yusuf Pathan, then representing Rajasthan Royals, had scored a century off just 37 balls against Mumbai Indians at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai in 2010. In the all-time IPL list, Agarwal is eighth.
Agarwal plundered 106 (50 balls, 10x4s, 7x6s) to propel KXIP to 223 for two wickets in 20 overs against Rajasthan Royals. He and his fellow Bangalorean and captain KL Rahul (69 off 54 balls) were involved in a record partnership of 183 runs for the opening wicket as a desperate Royals captain Steve Smith pressed into service six bowlers.
At 29 years and 217 days, Agarwal had scored his highest IPL score, a fabulous 60-ball 89 on September 20, and seven days later, at 29 years 225 days, he extended his explosive form to notch his maiden century in his 80th IPL match.
Agarwal was ruthless on the inside but was no less productive on the off. He used short-arm pulls to great effect. At times, he went down on his right knee and swatted the ball either straight into the stands or over the long off-cover boundary. One such shot for a straight six brought up his half-century, off a mere 26 balls.
The Bengaluru-based Agarwal also danced down the pitch against spinners and lofted the ball for the maximum. Even his bat’s outside edges off speedsters fetched his boundaries, so ferocious was his bat swing. Rajasthan Royals’ captain Steven Smith was simply left wiping sweat from his forehead.
Agarwal completed his maiden IPL century with a back-foot lofted shot to the extra cover boundary off leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal. He needed just 45 balls to reach the hundred. Tom Curran eventually had the rampaging batsman caught by Sanju Samson on the onside.
Before Sunday’s match, Agarwal had scored 1,381 runs, including six half-centuries — with the best being 89 against Delhi Capitals in Dubai — in 79 IPL matches. He had scored those runs at a good strike rate of 129.31.