Rohit Sharma, Mumbai Indians’ captain, believes that Tilak Varma has both the technique and temperament to become an all-format player for India in the near future. The 19-year-old Varma had represented India in the Under-19 World Cup in South Africa in 2020, with the team getting a runner-up finish.
Varma then emerged as a bright spot in his first IPL season under Rohit. This happened despite his teammates struggling and the team became the first to bow out of the playoffs. He has made 386 runs in 12 innings so far, the most by a teenager in an IPL season. This breaks Rishabh Pant’s record of 366 runs in 2017.
Right now. Varma is the seventh-highest run-getter this season. His runs come at an average of 40.88 and strike rate of 132.85.
Speaking to Star Sports after Mumbai beat Chennai Super Kings, Rohit said, “He’s been brilliant playing for the first year. Having such a calm head is never easy and in my opinion, I feel he’s going to be an all-format player for India pretty soon. He’s got the technique, he’s got the temperament, which is the most important thing when you play at the highest level.”
“So, I think a lot of things are looking bright for him and there is hunger. When you speak to him, there’s hunger to do well and finish games and have some success as well. I think he’s on the right path; he just needs to keep growing and see how he can improve and get better as a player.”
Varma stepped up in the absence of the injured Suryakumar Yadav to finish off a small chase of 98 against Super Kings. This happened on a challenging Wankhede pitch, after Mumbai had fallen to 33 for 4 within five overs.
He also took in the pressure together with off spin-bowling all-rounder Hrithik Shokeen in a 48-run partnership. It was also Shokeen’s first IPL season.
South African batter Tristan Stubbs also made his IPL debut in the game, coming in as late replacement for Tymal Miills, who was sidelined due to injury. He fell for a duck, but he has possibly two more games this season to make himself comfortable in the set-up
“Yeah, we’re keeping one eye on that [future] definitely, but we want to win games. That’s the bottom line but at the same time we want to make sure that we try out certain players and give them certain roles and try and see if they can live up to that. It will hold us in good stead for the next year. There are options that we want to try – there are still two games to go for us. So we might try certain things as well,” Rohit said.
Since Stubbs was included, this meant that Kieron Pollard was dropped from the XI after managing only 144 runs at an average of 14.40 and his lowest strike rate in any IPL season, which is only at 107.46.
Rohit, speaking of Pollard, said, “He’s been a stalwart for Mumbai, there’s no doubt about it,” Rohit said of Pollard. “I said it at the toss as well. It was him who came out and spoke about it [sitting out]. He’s okay with that because obviously we’re looking at players. Had we been in a situation where we had a chance to qualify, probably this wouldn’t have happened. But we’re keeping one eye on what are the holes we need to fill for the next year. Keeping everything in mind, we had to make that call and Kieron was the one who actually came up and said: ‘Absolutely fine by me’.”