Suresh Raina inspired a 12-year-old Tilak Varma to take up cricket full-time. Today, the Hyderabad player represents the Mumbai Indians in IPL 2022. He was bought by the franchise for Rs 1.7 crore. 

On Saturday, against the Rajasthan Royals, Varma scored 61 runs in 33 balls with the help of three boundaries and five maximums. In his first game for MI, the 20-year-old had made 22 off 15. 

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Talking about how former India batsman Suresh Raina inspired Varma in his teenage, the batsman’s then-Hyderabad cricket coach Salam Bayash recalled an incident from 2014. 

Bayash had taken a 12-year-old Varma at the HCA Stadium in Uppal. Chennai Super Kings were facing the Sunrisers Hyderabad that evening and Tilak Varma got to witness ‘Chinna Thala’s’ batting first hand. 

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“I had a friend of mine, who was a local manager. I took his help to procure permission to watch the practice and had little Tilak accompany. I distinctly remember a wide-eyed Tilak just watching Suresh Raina’s batting with awe. He didn’t remove his eyes even once and watched every shot played by Raina. Then we clicked pictures with him and I strongly feel that the “special meeting” with Raina was enough for Tilak to decide that he wanted to become a cricketer,” Bayash recalled the evening. 

Mumbai Indians are yet to win a match in IPL 2022. However, coach Mahela Jayawardena and skipper Rohit Sharma have showered praises on Tilak Varma. 

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The 20-year-old, in a recent interview said, that he wants to provide a better life for his parents. Varma was a part of India’s U-19 World Cup team in 2020 which played the final against Bangladesh. 

“Had my coach and parents not backed me, I wouldn’t have come so far. I dedicate this innings to all of them,” the southpaw had said moments after his whirlwind innings.

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Bayash recalled how Varma’s batting in a tennis ball match at a local ground, caught his attention.

“I saw him and felt that the kid was doing well. Then I called his parents and persuaded them to take the kid to my academy. He had issues while commuting, so he used to accompany for practice. We used to cover 40 km one way,” Bayash remembered.