Who is Tilak Varma, Mumbai Indians’ latest uncapped Indian recruit?

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Among several uncapped buys at the IPL 2022 Mega Auction, the name of Tilak Varma went under the radar a little bit. But five-time winners Mumbai Indians’ (MI) INR 1.7 crores recruit isn’t one to be left behind for sure.

A notable feature of India’s U-19 World Cup campaign back in 2020, Varma enters the most successful IPL franchise through sheer hardwork and constantly improved performances.

Before MI made a winning bid eight times greater than the base price of INR 20 lakhs to fetch him at the bidding war, the left-hand batter rose up the ranks in the junior and senior Indian domestic cricket set-up.

The rewards for the former arrived quite early, as he got to make his first-class debut aged only 16 for Hyderabad against Andhra in the 2018-19 season. That, curiously, remains Varma’s only senior red-ball encounter to date. However, the young gun has gone on to add 16 List A outings and 15 T20 games to his kitty since.

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Tilak Varma is one of the uncapped Indian young talents to watch out for in IPL 2022.

An evolved limited-overs batter, Tilak Varma

The List A format has seen his very best. Tilak Varma averages 52.26 at a strike-rate of 96.43 with three hundreds and three fifties apiece. In the Vijay Hazare Trophy earlier in the 2021-22 season, Verma made 180 runs from his five outings with a strike-rate of 87.37, including one century.

An anchor by role and batting style, it took Varma some time to find his feet and comfort in T20 cricket. But he turned a corner for himself in the last edition of the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20, smashing 215 runs from his seven games at an impressive strike-rate of 147.26. The promising youngster lit up the tournament with his upskilled powerhitting game, striking 14 fours and 12 sixes.

It is during this iteration of the SMAT that Tilak Verma caught the eye of MI’s well-established scouting team and they pushed him up the team’s reckoning to the first-choice squad for the upcoming edition of the IPL.

Born in November 2002, the middle-order batter is being seen as a prime candidate to make MI’s first XI also, especially with his ability to chip in with useful part-time spin as well. Varma has a List A economy rate of 4.58 with five scalps.

At MI, even if he happens to not make the final XI, Varma will have the chance to spend time with some of the game’s biggest names, including skipper Rohit Sharma, vice-captain Kieron Pollard and coach Mahela Jayawardena, and will never be short of things to learn and imbibe in his evolving game.

A franchise that has historically looked after its players through thick and thin, the stint with MI is only expected to hold Tilak Varma in good stead as he looks to push forward and fulfil the dream of representing his country one day.

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