Mayank Agarwal scored his maiden Test double century in only his fifth Test for India and the batsman revealed how it was his captain Virat Kohli‘s words of encouragement that motivated him to go on and convert his first international century into a double hundred. Agarwal, playing against South Africa in the first Test in Visakhapatnam, was involved in a partnership with Kohli when the conversation took place.

Three Tests later, Agarwal registered another double hundred this time against Bangladesh but his source of inspiration did not change.

“You know it’s never going to happen like that. But yes, in Vizag [against South Africa] when I got a 150, Virat [Kohli] was there at the other end and he said, “Nothing short of a 200 will do. You’re batting well, make sure to not just score for yourself but for your team. The team needs to get a bigger score and it’s important for you to be there to help us get that score at a faster pace,” Agarwal told ESPNcricinfo.

“And even when I got a double-hundred against Bangladesh, that was the case. He said, “Nothing short of 200 is gonna do.” So when I got to 150, it was a reminder from his side that we have spoken about these things. Now you’ve got to go out there and execute because you’re batting well, you’re in the middle, team’s in a good position and the team requires you to take us through to more.”

In only nine Tests since his debut during the 2018-19 Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Agarwal has racked up 872 runs at an average of 67.07. Besides the two double hundreds, the batsman from Karnataka also boasts a century and three fifties. This penchant of scoring daddy hundreds stems from Agarwal’s learnings from the game.

“As a cricketer I now understand that you’re not going to succeed always,” Agarwal said. “You’re not always going to have a great series or a great year. It then becomes important that when you’re getting those runs and when you’re having a good season, you’ve got to make it big. Because you know, as a sportsman, that there will be a time where you go through a little lull. And if you have been true and you’ve worked hard and scored runs when things were going well, it can take the pressure off you. And also you’ll have a template to get back to scoring big.”

Agarwal may still be fairly new to Test cricket but he cherishes two partnerships in particular with Cheteshwar Pujara during the fourth Test against Australia in Sydney and with Rohit Sharma against South Africa in Vizag. In Sydney, Agarwal and Pujara put on 116 runs and put on an attacking show after lunch, with their 100-run stand coming off 178 balls. Agarwal reached his second Test half-century off 96 balls, inclusive of two sixes against Nathan Lyon as the two batsmen rotated strike well and kept the scoreboard ticking. That little assault allowed India to score at a run-a-minute at one stage with 64 runs coming in the first hour of play after lunch on Day 1.

With Rohit, Agarwal added 317 runs for the first wicket as in his first Test as opener, Rohit struck a staggering 176. The partnership formed the base of India’s 203-run win and as it turned out, the series.

“The partnership with [Cheteshwar] Pujara was a lot about grit, a lot about fighting when we played against Australia in Australia,” Agarwal said.

“The partnership with Rohit [Sharma] against South Africa, the first Test, was a lot about both of us opening for the first time in India. It was just about getting set, understanding home conditions, making use of home conditions and then when we got a big partnership, I think it was more like rediscovering what we can do. Because in the partnership Rohit and I were talking and I said, “I’ve never reverse-swept.” And he said, “Neither have I.” So it was discovering a few things. We weren’t doing anything risky, but those shots automatically started coming out.”

After the disappointment of the New Zealand ODIs, Agarwal is now focussed on the format he’s better suited at and the 28-year-old admits to have made the adjustments required to settled better in New Zealand conditions.

“Yes, but I made sure it’s under control and not only thinking about it or stressing about it or planning about. So yes, a little thinking. I have watched the games England and New Zealand played and just had a little bit of an idea about what can come when India goes to New Zealand, but [without] getting overly engrossed – understand the challenges and tweak whatever needs tweaking,” the India opener explained.

“Obviously their fast bowling attack and how they operate. Looked into what are the things they do with the new ball, how they come back in the second spell, and how they bowl with the old ball, things like that.”