The 20-year-old left-handed batsman from Hyderabad Tilak Varma experienced a whirlwind of emotions when he received the news of his selection into the Indian T20I side for the series against West Indies. In a heartwarming moment, Tilak shared the news with his parents, Nagaraju and Gayatri Devi, over a video call in the late hours of Wednesday night. The Varma household was filled with tears of joy as the realization of Tilak’s dream became a reality.
Hailing from the humble surroundings of Legala Cricket Academy in Lingampally, Hyderabad, Tilak’s journey to the top has been nothing short of inspiring. Reflecting on the moment he shared the news with his parents, Tilak’s voice still carried the remnants of emotions. “My mom and dad were literally crying yesterday. I made a video call to them, and they were very emotional. My coach, Salam Bayash, also had the same reaction. He also became very emotional,” Tilak revealed after the conclusion of the second day’s play in the Duleep Trophy semi-final as reported by PTI.
Coincidentally, Tilak was informed of his selection by a childhood friend since his mobile phone was switched off during the Duleep Trophy match in Bengaluru.
“It was around 8 o’clock at night when my childhood friend called me and said I had been selected,” Tilak shared. The experience of playing for the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League (IPL) has played a significant role in preparing him for this pivotal moment. Tilak credited Kieron Pollard, his teammate at Mumbai Indians, for instilling confidence in him and teaching him to remain calm and focused in pressure situations.
Bayash, Tilak’s childhood coach, couldn’t contain his happiness upon seeing his pupil achieve such deserving heights. “He is a very good student of the game. He learns very quickly and remains a simple young man with a lot of focus on cricket. I first watched him playing tennis ball cricket and realized he has the potential to go all the way and play for India. Now, the moment has come, and hopefully, he will deliver for the country too,” said an elated Bayash.
While Tilak is thrilled with his selection, his focus remains on the ongoing Duleep Trophy match, where he aims to guide the South Zone to victory against the Central Zone. “I am more confident now because I am a capped player. It is a big thing to get selected for the Indian team, but I kept it aside. But even in my sleep, I was thinking of tomorrow’s game (Duleep Trophy),” Tilak expressed.
Tilak’s journey to the top has not been without hurdles. He missed the entire 2022-23 Ranji Trophy season due to a muscle tissue injury sustained during the India A tour to Bangladesh. However, he showcased no lack of confidence during his first long-form match this year, displaying composure as he scored 46 runs.
From a young age, Tilak has always enjoyed playing with the red ball, considering it a test of his skills. While he acknowledges the importance of the white-ball game and its mindset, Tilak believes that the red-ball format truly challenges his abilities. Confident and determined, Tilak is ready to embrace this new opportunity and make a mark in Indian cricket.