IPL 2023: Mumbai Indians' Tilak Varma heading for India call-up

Five-time champion Mumbai Indians bought Varma for $200,000 in last year's auction and the 20-year-old has repaid their faith with some stellar performances since

By AFP

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Mumbai Indians' Tilak Varma. — AFP
Mumbai Indians' Tilak Varma. — AFP

Published: Wed 19 Apr 2023, 3:31 PM

Last updated: Wed 19 Apr 2023, 3:33 PM

Rising talent Tilak Varma has earned predictions that he is destined to play for his country after lighting up the Indian Premier League with his fearless batting.

Five-time champion Mumbai Indians bought Varma for $200,000 in last year's auction and the 20-year-old has repaid their faith with some stellar performances since.

An attacking left-handed batsman, Varma smashed a 17-ball 37 in a crucial stand with Australia's Cameron Green in Mumbai's win over Sunrisers Hyderabad on Tuesday.

The knock, laced with four sixes, came at a strike-rate of over 217 and Rohit Sharma hinted that the youngster could work his way into the India team.

"What I like about his game is his approach, he is not afraid," Rohit, the India and Mumbai skipper, said after his team's third successive win in the IPL.

"He is not playing the bowler, he is playing the ball, which is quite important for someone of his age coming out and playing the way he is.

"He has got a long way to go and we will see him play for some different teams."

The Indian Express newspaper called Varma, who also bowls off-spin and only made his IPL debut last year, the "IPL's best young Indian batting talent".

The numbers back that up.

Varma is seventh in the list of batsmen during the current IPL with 214 runs from five matches, just a spot below Indian superstar Virat Kohli (220 from five matches).

South Africa's Faf du Plessis tops the batting charts with 259 runs.

Varma started this season with an unbeaten 84 off 46 balls in Mumbai's opener, albeit in a losing cause, and hit winning knocks including a quickfire 41 against Delhi Capitals.

Former player and India coach Ravi Shastri told Star Sports that "I would be very surprised if he does not play T20 cricket for India in the next six months or eight months".

"He has got the maturity, he has got the flare. He will make a world of difference to the Indian middle-order," said Shastri.

Varma has not always had it easy.

He began his cricketing journey in the south Indian city of Hyderabad, where his father works as an electrician and did not have enough money to fund his son's training.

Varma's early career was looked after by a coach who gave the youngster equipment and lifts to play in a cricket academy, according to Indian media.

Varma has now played 19 times in the IPL and also turned out for India 'A', the second tier of the national cricket team.

Tom Moody, a former Australia batsman who coached Hyderabad in the IPL, called Varma "an absolute jet" for the way he tears into opposition attacks.

"I love watching him bat," Moody said on ESPNcricinfo.

"It's a bit of an understatement -- but he's got a big career ahead of him, hasn't he? Not only for Mumbai Indians, but for India."

Since its inception in 2008, the IPL has been a breeding ground for young Indian talent with many top performers including Suryakumar Yadav emerging as global stars.

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