Saturday 28 May 2022
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Shastri impressed by electrician’s son

Shastri has been fascinated by Tilak Verma's performance for Mumbai Indians, impressed by 'the range — front foot, back foot and sweep of his shots'

Mumbai Indians may be missing their first win this season in the Indian Premier League, but its batsmen have impressed so far. Especially young batsman Tilak Varma, who played a fast-paced innings of 61 runs in 33 balls in the match against Rajasthan Royals. Earlier, in his debut match against Delhi, he played a short innings of 22 runs in 15 balls. He impressed everyone with his batting, including former head coach of Team India Ravi Shastri who said about this batsman that the range of his shots is huge.

During an event, Shastri said, “He has shown a lot of potential in both the innings he played for Mumbai Indians. I am impressed by the range-front foot, back foot and sweep of his shots. There is a lot of variation in his shot selection. His mentality. The balance, body language and mood are very good as a youngster. He has batted with a lot of confidence. This player has the potential to move forward.”

Shastri reacted to Mumbai Indian’s middle-order batting and said that the pair of Tilak Varma and Suryakumar would strengthen Mumbai’s middle order. “Tilak has shown a positive attitude and these are good signs for Mumbai Indians. Once Suryakumar Yadav is back, the team’s middle-order will be stronger,” he said.

Mumbai has played two matches so far and in both, they were defeated. In the first match, the team had to face defeat against Delhi and in the second match, Rajasthan. Suryakumar is expected to make a comeback in the match against Kolkata. With his arrival, the middle order of Mumbai will be strengthened.

The story of Tilak Varma, son of a humble electrician

When an electrician father failed to brighten his son’s cricketing prospects, in came a coach to take care of all the expenses and go beyond that. And that’s how that nine-year-old boy, once playing in the bylanes of Chandrayangutta in Hyderabad, and possessing an attractive batting stance, cuts and pulls shots, grew into a 19-year-old Tilak Varma, with a Rs 1.7 crore IPL deal. He was picked up by Mumbai Indians on the second day of the IPL 2022 mega auction.

It is not for nothing that Varma attributes his growth as a cricketer to his coach Salam Bayash, who provided him with the necessary grooming, gave him food, and when required, a place to stay in his own house where five other family members lived.

His father Namboori Nagaraju could hardly afford to send Varma to a cricket academy and buy him the gears, but Salam “took care of his expenses”.

Mere bare mein bhale hi na likho, but coach sir ka zaroor mention karna (It’s okay not to write about me but definitely do highlight Salam sir),” Varma had told reporters after being bought by the record five-time champions.

“He bought me the cricketing gears and took care of most of the expenses (at Legala Cricket Academy). So it’s all because of him and my family’s support I’m here,” he added.

Living in a rented house, Varma’s four-member family was hit hard financially during the COVID-19 pandemic as his father stopped getting new contracts during the lockdowns, but his cricket did not suffer, thanks to his coach’s “unrelenting support”.

“There was a lot of suffering and we had to cut down our expenses during the pandemic. But my coach ensured that I continued playing cricket. Hopefully, things will turn better now.” Varma, who had a base price of Rs 20 lakh, generated huge interest among the franchises and led to intense bidding between Sunrisers Hyderabad, Rajasthan Royals, and Chennai Super Kings before the Rohit Sharma-led side breached the Rs one-crore mark for the young left-hander, who also bowls off-spin.

“I was confident of playing IPL but never expected to get this price tag. It’s a dream come true for me to play with a team I always loved. It will give me a perfect opportunity to learn and hone my skills, playing alongside the greats.” In his coach’s words, Varma has a long way to go and Mumbai Indians are the perfect launchpad for him.

“I can’t be happier, it’s the result of his patience and perseverance. It’s been a long journey of hard work for us. Mumbai is a big franchise and has produced many players like Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya and I hope Tilak goes a long way too,” Salam said from Hyderabad.

The coach said Varma prefers to bat at No. 3 but he’s flexible and loves playing the finisher’s role.

“I just hope he gets a couple of opportunities and then he will surely his place. He has the perfect cricketing shots and also has a patient mind. It works perfectly for him in finishing the games.

“Also, he is very serious about his off-spin and it comes in handy during crunch situations,” the coach said about his favourite ward.

Varma’s cricketing journey started about 10 years ago when he was playing in the old city’s bylanes. That’s when the coach convinced his parents to take him to Legala Cricket Academy near Lingampalli Station.

“It was during 2011-12 and this boy attracted me with his stance and the attractive cut and pull shots. I immediately convinced his family and was ready to invest on the boy, I knew he has a future in cricket,” Salam added.

Varma made his Ranji Trophy debut against Andhra three years ago. He also played for India in the U-19 World Cup in 2020 when the team finished runners-up to Bangladesh, scoring 38 and 48 in two games.

He was on a roll in the Vijay Hazare Trophy domestic one-dayers, scoring 180 runs in five matches and taking four wickets. He was impressive also at the Syed Mushtaq Ali domestic T20s, compiling 215 runs in seven games at a rate of 147.26.

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