With scores of 39, 50, and 49 not out in three T20I matches in the West Indies, the 20-year-old elegant Hyderabad left-hander has dazzled everyone and has never once been out of place at the international level.
Premier off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has pleaded with the national selectors and team management to put their faith in a player like Tilak Varma and select him for the World Cup squad as he might be the solution to India’s middle-order problems with a number of batters still recovering from injuries.
Former selectors chairman MSK Prasad, who would not mind seeing Varma in the final 15 if Shreyas Iyer were to be cut, agreed with Ashwin’s remarks.
The 20-year-old stylish Hyderabad left-hander has impressed one and all with scores of 39, 50 and 49 not out in three T20I games in the West Indies and not for once looked out of place at the international level.
“This is neck-and-neck with respect to the World Cup. So, will they think about Tilak Varma as an option if we don’t have enough backups? Because Sanju Samson has performed really well in ODIs. But the exciting part about Tilak Varma is that he is a left-hander and Team India is lacking left-handers. Jaddu (Ravindra Jadeja) is the only left-handed batter in the top 7,” Ashwin said on his YouTube channel.
With star batters KL Rahul (thigh surgery) and Iyer (lower back surgery) are running against time to get fit for the 50-over showpiece starting October 5, neither of the two back-up options Suryakumar Yadav and Samson has inspired confidence of the highest order as the conundrum with regards to the No. 4 slot continues.
While Surya enjoys the team management’s confidence and will make it as an extra middle-order option in the squad, Samson has wasted way too many opportunities and if Rahul is fit, then certainly Ishan Kishan will be the second keeper-cum-reserve opener.
Ashwin explained why he chose Varma, claiming that the majority of the top nations lack good finger spinners who can challenge a novice. “And have a look at all the major teams’ spinners. Ashton Agar exists in Australia. Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid are two players for England. Therefore, most teams lack a finger spinner to oppose left-handed batters. Tilak’s emergence is essential because of this. Although Ashwin is aware that it could be challenging to advance Varma, there is no harm in giving him a chance, especially in light of his recent accomplishments in the Caribbean.
“It’s early, but will they consider him as a possibility? At least he has gotten everyone’s attention. He is undoubtedly included in the backup plan. Because if a selector had seen that knock, they would have exclaimed, “Woah!”
Prasad, who oversaw the selection process for the previous ODI World Cup, believes that a player similar to Varma is an equally skilled ODI player.
“Check out his Hyderabad List A record. He has participated in 25 List A games and has a 55 plus (56.18) average. Five hundred and fifty-five years. It implies that he is turning fifty into a hundred at least half the time. 100 plus strikes per 100,” Prasad told PTI.