Tilak Varma, the left-handed batsman, has made headlines with his selection in the squad for the India vs West Indies T20I series. As he prepares to make his international debut, Varma’s childhood coach, Salam Bayash, shared an interesting anecdote about his admiration for Suresh Raina during his younger days.
According to Bayash, Varma was a big fan of Raina and had an immense desire to meet him. To motivate Varma during his school days, Bayash promised him a special gift if he could score a century in a one-day school league. Varma rose to the challenge and scored a century, fulfilling the condition set by his coach.
“He was mad about Raina. I wanted him to show his class in one-day school leagues. I lured him by saying, if you score a century in this league, I will give you a big gift. And he did score a century. After some days, CSK came to play SRH in an IPL game. I had already spoken to some officials and requested him to let Tilak be a ball boy in that match. I took Tilak to the stadium and took him to a dedicated area, and he was given a jersey and the duty of being a ball boy for the match”, Bayash said.
Bayash, having made prior arrangements with officials, surprised Varma by allowing him to be a ball boy during an IPL match between Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH). Varma was overjoyed to have this experience and was even given a jersey for the match.
During the game, Raina was playing, and Bayash had yet another surprise in store for Varma. After the match, Varma had the chance to meet his idol, Suresh Raina, who provided him with valuable tips and guidance. Varma was ecstatic and showed his respect by touching Raina’s feet.
“Suresh Raina was playing in that match. That was a gift from me to him. I had another gift for him. After the match, he met Raina as well. Tilak was just delighted to meet him. He touched his feet and took many tips from him,” Salam Bayash further said.
Varma’s impressive performances in the Indian Premier League (IPL) caught selectors’ attention. In IPL 2022, he scored 397 runs in 14 matches for Mumbai Indians at an average of 36.09. In the following season, he continued to shine, amassing 343 runs in 11 games at a remarkable strike rate of over 164.
With India scheduled to play five T20I matches against West Indies, Varma will likely make his international debut during this series. As he embarks on this new chapter in his cricketing journey, Varma remembers meeting his idol and the lessons he learned from Suresh Raina.