IPL 2022: How a chance encounter with Suresh Raina changed 12-year-old Tilak Varma’s mindset | Cricket News

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NAVI MUMBAI: Suresh Raina most certainly won’t remember the chance encounter he had with a little known Hyderabad cricket coach Salam Bayash or the 12-year-old kid, who had accompanied him in tow during that evening at the HCA Stadium in Uppal back in 2014.
Chennai Super Kings were pitted against Sunrisers Hyderabad on the very next day and little did ‘Chinna Thala’ know that his five-minute interaction and a photo with a then 12-year-old Namboori Thakur Tilak Varma will have such an impact on 12-year-old’s impressionable mind.
Eight year hence, the now 20-year-old left-hander’s lucid style of strokeplay must have brought a wide grin on Raina’s face while watching him reverse sweep Ravichandran Ashwin for a six.
“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,” it seemed as if it happened yesterday in the manner Bayash recollected events of that day.
“I distinctly remember a wide-eyed Tilak just watching Suresh Raina’s batting with awe. He stood transfixed 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,” the childhood coach said about his ward, who has become the find of Mumbai Indians.
MI lost to Rajasthan Royals but Tilak’s 61 had garnered a lot of attention, especially after head coach Mahela Jayawardena showered him with glowing praise.
Son of an electrician, Varma believes that the Rs 1.7 crore contract will help him provide a better life for his parents, who have sacrificed a lot to see their son realise his dream.
But Bayash always knew that Varma was special and did play a huge role in shaping his career from age-group cricket to U-19 and now sending a near-finished product to Mumbai Indians.
“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.
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 me for practice. We used to cover 40 km one way,” Bayash remembered.
Varma is a resident of Salala Barkas area in Belapur locality and travelled all the way to Lingapally to practice at the Legala cricket academy. He studied at the Cresent Model English school.
“I had taken special permission from school authorities and often he would have lunch at the academy before starting training in the afternoon session. While Tilak’s family at that point had hardships, I must give credit to his parents, who were very supportive with his career choice,” Bayash said.
Bayash is elated that Varma was roped in by a champion outfit like MI where he can learn a lot from legends.
“Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders are good teams and so is Punjab Kings, which gives a lot of opportunities to youngsters and it’s luck that he landed in a champion team like MI. Which coach won’t be proud if his student plays for MI,” Bayash said.
But amidst all these Bayash’ real happiness lies somewhere else. When he played cricket, Bayash’s only wish was to meet Sachin Tendulkar once in his lifetime, talk to him and seek his blessings.
What he couldn’t achieve, his favourite ward has done it.
“When I was playing, I nurtured only one dream to meet and greet Tendulkar. I am more pleased that my student is now meeting him and taking his tips,” he signed off.



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