Tilak Varma is translating promise into runs

The teenager batted with poise and displayed a range of strokes against New Zealand-A

The teenager batted with poise and displayed a range of strokes against New Zealand-A

The world saw a glimpse of Tilak Varma at the Under-19 World Cup in South Africa in 2020. Though he didn’t set the tournament on fire — that was done by teammate Yashasvi Jaiswal — he still caught the eye with his strokeplay.

Two years on, the world saw a lot of him. And wished to see more. On one of cricket’s biggest stages, the 19-year-old left-hander dazzled with his shots and impressed with his temperament. In an IPL season to forget for Mumbai Indians, he proved one bright spot, and one big hope for the future.

The franchise would have congratulated itself on securing his services for Rs. 1.7 crore, against a base price of Rs. 20 lakh, after outbidding Sunrisers Hyderabad, Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings at the auction. He responded by scoring 397 runs, with two fifties, at an average of 36.09 and a strike-rate of 131.02.

All-format batter

Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma, coach Mahela Jayawardene and batting legend Sunil Gavaskar were among those who praised Tilak. Rohit and Gavaskar had said that he could be an all-format batter for India.

At the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here this weekend, he showed what they meant. He scored a splendid 121 on his India-A debut, against New Zealand-A in the first ‘Test’, which ended in a draw. He batted with poise and displayed an admirable range of strokes, as he scored his maiden First-Class hundred, in his fifth match.

“My aim is to play in whites for India,” Tilak said. “I loved my innings (here) and I want to continue (to bat) like this.”

He admitted he wasn’t expecting to play for India-A so soon. “I was surprised when I was included in the India-A team, but it felt nice,” he said.

“I am not looking far into the future, but match to match. I always want to give my best to the team, regardless of the situation; that is what I have been doing in the Under-16 and 19 matches or the IPL. And I get hundreds or runs like that.”

He said he was a more confident player after the IPL. “That has helped my batting here,” he said and added that he also gained from working at the camp at the National Cricket Academy here. “I could work with V.V.S. Laxman, Hrishikesh Kanitkar and the supporting staff,” here. “The tips from them were useful for my practice in red-ball cricket.”

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