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Hyderabad: Playing his maiden Indian Premier League season with the five-time champions Mumbai Indians, Hyderabad batter N Thakur Tilak Varma carved a niche for himself.

The southpaw emerged one of the top run-getters for the team with 397 runs with a healthy average of 36.09 and a strike rate of 131. He is only behind Ishan Kishan who scored 418 runs. What more impressive about the youngster is the fact that he emerged the ‘go-to-man’ for his captain Rohit Sharma. He came to the rescue of the team on several occasions when they were struggling. No wonder MI skipper Rohit called him the ‘find of the season’ for them.

The biggest compliment also came from the Indian captain Rohit when he said Tilak could be an all-format batter for India in future. “I was very happy when Rohit bhai said that. I made me more confident. The comments, however, will not put me under any sort of pressure. He advised me to back my game, enjoy it and the good results will follow. Such compliments from the captain only make me confident,” said the youngster who returned to the city after his stint.

Tilak termed his maiden IPL appearance as a great learning experience. “Playing with my favourite team and performing well is a great experience. Of course, it would have been sweeter if we had qualified for playoffs. Nonetheless, it was a memorable one for me,” he said.
What is one key that he learnt from IPL? “The big change in me is that I am a more confident player. Performing at that level made me realise my potential. It is a big confidence booster.”

“The focus now is on finishing the games. I could not take the team home in a few games in the initial part of the season. Going forward, I want to work on finishing the game. Having done that in the last couple of games, I realised the importance of it.,” he added.

He is also grateful for the opportunity to interact with the greats like Sachin Tendulkar and Mahela Jayawardene. “The interactions with Sachin sir and Mahela sir were invaluable. They told me to back my game and enjoy it. Their inputs on minor things are very valuable. I learnt the importance of having a positive mindset and staying calm in pressure situations,” he revealed. When asked about his favourable moment, he rated his performance against Chennai Super Kings, where he scored a half-century, as unforgettable one.

“As a youngster and first timer in the team, I was a bit nervous. But everyone in the team was very supportive. Once you talk to them, you will see how supportive they are. We were like a family,” he said.

He further revealed that he formed a close bond with South African cricketer Dewald Brevis. “We both are the youngsters in the team and I could not share everything with senior players. So I was very close to Brevis. We both are of the same age and that helped us to connect,” he revealed.

He added that his next focus now is on winning matches with Hyderabad. “Now I feel I am a more confident player. I want to win matches for Hyderabad in any tournament I play and win trophies,” he concluded.


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Author: Howard Caldwell