In the face of defeat, India’s young cricket unit found a shining beacon of hope in the form of Tilak Varma, whose sensational performances in the T20I series against West Indies have left fans and experts alike in awe. Despite back-to-back losses, the left-handed sensation has emerged as the standout positive, displaying remarkable talent and composure on the international stage.
From Tennis Ball to Team India
Tilak Varma’s journey to cricketing stardom is a tale of unwavering determination and the invaluable support of his childhood coach, Salam Bayash. Spotting the young prodigy’s potential at a tender age in 2011-12, Bayash was the first to recognize Varma’s solid strokeplay while playing tennis ball cricket with his friends at the Barkas ground. Convinced of the youngster’s talent, Bayash persuaded Varma’s father, who initially hesitated due to financial constraints, to allow his son to pursue a career in cricket.
Bayash’s belief in Varma’s talent was unwavering, and he took personal responsibility for the budding cricketer’s development. From morning till evening, Varma dedicated himself to the sport, training rigorously at Bayash’s academy. The coach also ensured that the young prodigy had a comfortable living arrangement near the academy to minimize the long commutes.
Breakthrough season with Mumbai Indians
The hard work and dedication soon paid off as Varma caught the attention of the Mumbai Indians franchise in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Playing alongside some of the biggest names in the cricketing world, Varma showcased his flair for explosive batting, delivering crucial knocks during the IPL, including an unbeaten 84 off 46 balls in the season opener and a blistering 37 off 17 balls against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
With his impressive performances in the IPL, Varma’s dream of representing the national team became a reality. The left-handed dynamo made his India debut, leaving an indelible mark by smashing a couple of sixes off the first three balls he faced. In the second T20I against West Indies, Varma raised the bar even higher, notching up a magnificent maiden half-century and guiding India to a respectable total.
Meeting Sachin Tendulkar
His childhood coach, Bayash, couldn’t be prouder of the progress Varma has made. Even batting legend Sachin Tendulkar took note of the young prodigy’s exceptional talent. A heartwarming incident saw Varma introduce Bayash to his idol, Sachin Tendulkar, in Hyderabad. The legendary cricketer acknowledged Bayash’s efforts in nurturing Varma’s talent and praised the young prodigy’s potential.
“Sachin sir likes him very much. I will tell you another instance. Tilak told him that my teacher is a very big fan of yours. So, Sachin sir replied, ‘I know everything about you and your coach’. Last year, when Sachin sir came to Hyderabad, I got to meet him and that was a big, big moment for me. I told him, ’20 years se apse milne ki khawaish thi. Upar wala meri khawaish puri kardiye’ (For 20 years, it has been my dream to meet you. Finally, got has fulfilled my wish). He then hugged me and told me that I have prepared a very good player in Tilak and should continue to do the same. Main jitna khush tha, use zyada Tilak khush tha ki maine sir ko Sachin Sir se milwa diya, (More than me, Tilak was happier that he was able to make me meet Sachin)”, Bayash revealed in an interview.